Monday, January 12, 2009

Derelict Fishing Net: divers dive deep to remove sealife hazard

Interesting artice in today's Los Angeles Times: In 2006, a fishing trawler sank off the southwestern tip of Catalina Island - one of the Channel Islands situated about 25 miles off the coast of Los Angeles/Long Beach. Sitting upright on the bottom, its haul of fishing net drapes over the ship like a billowing circus tent and has been responsible for the death of endless numbers of marine life, ranging from small fish to seal lions, dolphins and sharks. The sandy bottom around the base of the wreck is littered with the bones and skulls of many of the net's victims.

In come the Ocean Defenders Alliance, a Huntington Beach, CA-based non-profit committed to protecting offshore reefs and seabeds from dangerous man-made objects, particularly fishing nets which, when torn or lost at sea, often pose an ongoing hazard to marine life - as in the case of the sunken trawler at Catalina.

This past weekend, volunteer divers working with the Ocean Defenders Alliance made a series of deep dives, breathing a Nitrox blend to limit the possibility of decompression sickness, to cut away the derelict netting and haul it to the surface - not an easy task due to the depth, limited visibility, and shear bulk of the fishing net. As much as 800 square feet of netting was recovered, but organizers believe it will take many more dives to retrieve it all.

Congratulations to the Ocean Defenders Alliance for taking this proactive step regarding abandoned, derelict fishing nets - a worldwide problem that contributes to the death of many tens of thousands of marine animals. (Read entire L.A. Times article.)

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