The Dutch Dive the North Sea Clean Foundation (DtNC) departed last week for their 12th diving expedition in the North Sea aboard the Cdt. Fourcault. Expedition North Sea 2018 is dedicated to discovering and cleaning wrecks in England and the Netherlands. 30 experienced volunteer divers remove waste during the 10 day expedition at 20 locations (in particular ghost nets, lead, fishing hooks and lures), liberate animals, collect biological and archaeological data and photograph and film.
“With this expedition we want to bring both the beauty, vulnerability and litter of the North Sea to the attention of the general public,” says Ben Stiefelhagen, Expedition leader and founder DtNC.
Cleaning has a high priority because nets, lines and other rubbish break off slowly into smaller pieces which are difficult to remove from the sea. In addition to cleaning, there are other activities on the program:
- The expedition ship Cdt. Fourcault sails first to wrecks near the Dutch coast where a pilot is started with a photogrammetry scan – a method to image wrecks in 3D.
- From there, the team sails to biologically interesting Natura2000 protected areas on the border between the Netherlands and England, including the Brown Ridge and the Dogger Bank, where unique species were previously observed and expected again.
- The divers dive on various wrecks, including a sunken oil production platform.
- In English waters, the team visits the enormous Southern North Sea marine protected area for Harbour Porpoises. They then move northwest to Coquet to St Mary’s, Farnes East, and Berwickshire and North Northumberland protected areas (protecting reefs and rich muds). This furthest destination of the expedition is also a special bird nature area, also known for its fish-rich waters with kelp and numerous grey seals.
DtNC cooperates with the UK Marine Conservation Society to guide its actions in UK waters and to inform policy makers and the general public in UK about the expedition and its results.
“The North Sea Foundation helps on board and tells the story of this expedition. This is how we show the Netherlands our beautiful North Sea, which is more than worth it!” said Floris van Hest, Director of the North Sea Foundation.
“Whilst UK has protected many inshore areas from damaging bottom trawling and dredging, there are no bans on any trawling or netting in the Dogger Bank, Farnes East, Coquet to St Mary’s and Harbour Porpoise MPAs in the the North Sea. Working together, we can show the biodiversity and life in these remote places,” said Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MPA specialist, Marine Conservation Society.
This expedition is an initiative of the Dive The North Sea Clean Foundation in collaboration with the Dutch North Sea Foundation and the UK Marine Conservation Society. The expedition team consists of marine biologists, amateur archaeologists, ecologists, underwater photographers, film makers and support divers plus crew.
The diving work can only be done by very experienced divers in view of the difficult circumstances in which the project has to be carried out: 25 to 45 meters depth in cold, running water with varying visibility (2 to 25 meters). From the 11 expeditions that have been carried out so far, the foundation has shown that marine life in the North Sea is surprisingly diverse and colorful, which strengthens the importance of nature conservation.
The team works closely with research agencies, industry, universities and the government. DtNC wants to put the importance of natural and artificial reefs (including wrecks) in the North Sea on the map and stimulate a sound marine protection policy. Wrecks, boulders, cobbles and rocky reefs act as nurseries and shelter for many life forms. It is estimated that more than 500 different animal species live on these hard substrates in the Netherlands alone. Moreover, wrecks are time capsules of great cultural-historical importance. Since 2011, the foundation has already organized 11 successful expeditions to various areas in the Dutch part of the North Sea.
Follow the website and Facebook of The North Sea Clean Foundation and The North Sea Foundation for more information. Use: https://map.mpa-reality-check.