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Marine Life & Conservation

Divers head to the Wild Isles to tackle nightmare nets

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Volunteer divers from the award winning charity Ghost Fishing UK are heading to Shetland for a week-long mission to help the fishing community clean up the islands.

Responding to reports from local fishermen of giant gill nets, mostly non native to the UK, catching all kinds of wildlife as well as wasting fish stocks, the team is heading north to help tackle the problem.

Shetland fishermen, concerned about the environmental impact of unmonitored landings, discarded gill nets and an increase in harm to wildlife and unintended bycatch, have been protesting about the gill nets which are alleged to be used then dumped by foreign vessels.

Fishermen from the islands have been pulling in these huge gill nets, some with rocks inside to weigh them down, with their own nets and are then left with the problem and the cost of disposal.

They contacted Christine Grosart, trustee of Ghost Fishing UK, to see if anything could be done to help.

She said; “I was shocked to receive some pretty harrowing images of enormous gill nets, dumped at sea, full of life including birds. We have a good track record of working in Orkney so figured Shetland should not be a problem for our team.”

The Ghost Fishing UK charity has been running since 2015 and operates with volunteers all over the UK, cleaning up lost fishing gear and recycling it wherever possible. The charity is unique in that it works with the fishing community to tackle the problem and this has changed the landscape of ocean conservation in the UK.

“Since we won the Fishing News Awards a couple of years ago, attitudes have slowly been changing” Christine explains “It is no longer ‘us and them’ when it comes to divers, conservationists and fishermen. We all want the same thing; a healthy, thriving ocean. These large gill nets are unfair, completely unmonitored and not only impact our fish stocks for our own fishery, but are causing havoc with our wildlife. Our fishermen just don’t use them, so we are sure they are not native to our islands.”

The charity will be in Shetland from 6th – 11th August aboard MV Valhalla, and is looking for volunteers each evening to help with sorting recovered ghost gear and cleaning it, ready for recycling back on the mainland. Any recovered creels will be given back to the fishermen and the charity is slowly receiving reports of lost gear.

They are appealing to fishermen to tell them if they know of any lost fishing gear in the 35 metre depth range.

Arlene Robertson from Fishing Forward, a pressure group with well over 3000 members, said “We are appalled at what is going on around Shetland/UK waters. We contacted and welcomed Ghost Fishing UK to Shetland to help highlight the truth. Shetland fishermen have been gathering photographic evidence of the tons of deliberately discarded fishing gear and domestic waste from foreign owned fishing boats which is desperately harmful for the environment and to wildlife.”

Ghost Fishing UK are hosting an outreach evening on Thursday 10th August at Shetland Museum, Lerwick and tickets have run out.

It’s a full house” Christine says “We are thrilled that we are going to have a mix of public, fishermen, divers and conservationists all in one place, working towards the same thing. We are hosting talks from Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Fishing Forward UK and of course providing updates on the project ourselves. It’s going to be a groundbreaking evening.

Several local companies have offered assistance to the charity, including Northlink Ferries and DFDS Haulage on Shetland. The charity has been crowdfunding to raise money to cover the cost of the boat and equipment and are almost on target for £20,000.

The team is planning on sending a couple of their members out on a fishing boat for the day to get a real feel for how the industry works and they are delighted in the assistance given by Fishing Forward and two boats have offered to take the volunteers out.

Arlene says “Fishing Forward UK and affiliated fishermen concur with Ghost Fishing UK in their quest for a clean, healthy, thriving ocean for us all to enjoy. Shetland fishermen want to invest in sustainable fishing; after all, it is their heritage, livelihood and future.”

You can follow the project on all social media platforms and visiting www.ghostfishing.co.uk

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive with a Purpose: Shark Guardian’s Expedition Galapagos

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Shark Guardian has just unveiled their largest and most exciting expedition yet: a seven-night, eight-day adventure in August 2026 aboard the Galaxy Diver II, a state-of-the-art
vessel specifically designed for divers exploring the enchanting waters of the Galapagos
Islands. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage deeply with marine
conservation in one of the world’s most revered diving destinations.

Shark Guardian is a UK registered charity dedicated to protecting sharks and marine
ecosystems worldwide. Founded by marine biologists and conservationists, Brendon
Sing and Liz Ward-Sing, Shark Guardian leads educational programs, research projects,
campaigns and expeditions aimed at fostering a better understanding and respect for
marine life. Their work spans several continents and focuses on direct action,
education, and advocacy.

Shark Guardian’s ethos revolves around the concept of “diving with a purpose.” This
philosophy underscores the importance of not just experiencing the wonders of the
underwater world but actively learning and contributing to its preservation. Participants
in Shark Guardian expeditions engage in citizen science projects, which involve
collecting data that supports ongoing research and conservation efforts. These
activities empower divers to make a tangible difference, turning each dive into an act of
conservation.

One of the newer additions to the Galapagos diving scene, the Galaxy Diver II, is
specifically tailored for divers. Its design prioritises comfort, safety, and environmental
responsibility. The vessel boasts modern amenities, spacious dive decks, and the latest
navigational technology, ensuring that every dive is not only memorable but also has
minimal environmental impact.

A highlight of this expedition is the opportunity to dive at Wolf and Darwin islands,
renowned for their vibrant, untouched marine ecosystems and as a haven for large
pelagic species. These islands are famous for their schools of hammerhead sharks,
whale sharks, and manta rays, offering spectacular diving that attracts enthusiasts from
around the globe.

Shark Guardian have developed this trip to ensure a hassle-free experience. The
expedition package also includes internal flights from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos,
plus accommodation in Quito before and after the trip. This allows divers to relax and
enjoy the experience without worrying about logistics.

Participants will join a diverse group of passionate divers and conservationists. This trip
offers a unique opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who are eager to
learn about and contribute to marine conservation. It’s a chance to share experiences,
knowledge, and a commitment to protecting the marine world.

sharks

Shark Guardian is offering an early bird price available until May 31st 2024. This special
rate provides a fantastic opportunity to secure a spot on this exclusive expedition at a
reduced cost. Availability is limited, so interested divers are encouraged to act quickly
to ensure they don’t miss out. All the details can be found on their WeTravel page, where
bookings can be made easily and payment instalments are available.

Expedition Galapagos, aboard the Galaxy Diver II offers more than just a diving
holiday—it is an investment in both personal and planetary well-being. By participating,
divers not only witness the majesty of one of the world’s premier diving locales but also
contribute to its preservation for future generations.

Find out more about Shark Guardian at www.sharkguardian.org.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust Launches New Podcast

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shark trust

The Shark Trust has launched their new podcast. Delve behind the scenes and gain exclusive insights in the world of shark and ray conservation on The Shark Trust Podcast. Out Now!

Join the Shark Trust on this journey as they explore the diverse world of sharks. Hear from experts from different backgrounds and learn how you can become a part of the global effort to protect these vital species.

Whether you’re a seasoned shark expert or just dipping your toes beneath the surface, this podcast offers something for everyone!

shark trust

In the first series you will hear from the Shark Trust team. Shark Trust Patrons, Monty Halls, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Simon Rogerson. Divers with a passion for sharks. And some of the Oceanic 31 artists.

New episodes released every two weeks on all major podcast platforms and watch full video versions on the Shark Trust YouTube Channel. Keep your eyes peeled for the bonus minisodes!

There are two available to dive into right now!

Episode 1: Dive beneath the waves of shark and ray conservation with Mark as he speaks with Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust. Paul and Mark discuss the threats and difficulties that sharks and rays currently face in the modern world. And how the Shark Trust is working to create a better future for them!

Bonus Minisode: Join Mark at Go Diving, the UK’s biggest dive show. He interviews Shark Trust Patron, Simon Rogerson, about his diving experiences and how seeing sharks can transform your life!

For more information about the work of the Shark Trust, visit their website here.

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