The scourge of Ghost Gear - Underwater drones used to help mitigate risk to marine life
Shannon Regan | February 2, 2018
Diving with a Deep Trekker Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), or underwater drone, to conduct sweeps underwater for lost or discarded ghost gear. Joining with Ghost Fishing to find and remove lost fishing gear to keep our oceans clean and safe for marine life.
What is Ghost Gear or Ghost Fishing?
Ghost fishing or ghost gear is referred to fishing gear that has been lost, dumped or abandoned in our vast bodies of water (Ghostfishing.org). Man-made contraptions designed to catch fish and marine animals, such as nets, long lines, and fish traps are considered capable of ghost fishing when not supervised. Ghost fishing is also contributing to depleting commercial fish stocks, due to the lack of profit made from fish catches. Fish that are caught often die and in turn attract scavengers which can get caught in that same net, creating a vicious cycle.
How Much Fishing Gear is Lost?
An estimated 25,000 nets are discarded annually in the Northeast Atlantic alone, according to World Animal Protection, with the masses increasing each year. These nets can weigh up to 10,000 pounds, resulting in diving teams having to take multiple trips underwater - a single dive trip can only retrieve 200 to 300 pounds of nets of this 10,000 out of the ocean. The search is timely, and often dangerous and strenuous for divers.
Ghost Fishing Initiatives
There are many Ghost Fishing initiatives and organizations all over the world, aimed at removing derelict fishing gear that continues to harm, trap and kill aquatic life. In 2015, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative was set up as an alliance of non-governmental organizations, academics and fishing industry leaders to reduce the amount of ghost gear in the oceans.
Underwater Drones or ROVs for Ghost Gear Retrieval
Today, Deep Trekker is using its underwater ROVs to help find solutions to bridge the gap and understand the severity and prevalence of ghost gear in hotspot areas and near gillnet fisheries. The DTG2 and DTX2 can be used for quick deployment during survey missions to demonstrate where ghost gear is accumulating and help indicate what type of impact it is having.
Deep Trekker ROVs are easy to use, portable and built to last in harsh open water environments. Piloting a unit and surveying images is easy using the handheld controller with its built-in video display for clear visibility. It’s also designed with onboard batteries to last up to 8 hours on a single 1.5 hour charge. The unit’s extreme portability means not having to worry about lugging around heavy equipment in remote locations and the ability to deploy the unit to subsea depths of up to 150 meters.
It is critical that our oceans are carefully monitored and free of waste that pose a major threat to our marine biodiversity. Deep Trekker ROVs can assist in reducing these risks and help to restore marine life.
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