National | Fish

Wellington Dive volunteers take on Ghost-fishing problem

A group of volunteer scuba divers are removing up to a tonne of waste each month from Wellington's seashores.

Ghost Fishing NZ Director Rob Wilson says every little bit counts when it comes to ensuring the survival of marine life.

"Fairly regularly we'll get about 1000kgs per event if we haven't hauled over 800kgs it's a reasonably clean site."

Ghost Fishing NZ Dive Lead and NIWA Marine Scientist Serena Cox says "there are sites that we've dived in Wellignton that are comprised more of glass bottles and cans than actually sand."

Ghost Fishing NZ is a group of volunteers taking it upon themselves to clean up the shorelines, wharfs and harbours in the region.

"Ghost fishing is an international collaboration where teams of divers all over the world retrieve mostly big large commercial fishing nets, hense the name ghost fishing because they continue to fish while they are sitting on the sea bottom,” Dr Cox says.

"Ghost Fishing NZ is a slightly different model in that we aren't targeting big commercial fishing nets but we're targeting other forms of rubbish."

Although plastic is the main pollutant found here the group has removed everything you can imagine from the sea floor.

Dr Cox says “we welcome anybody and everybody and we would love to have more Māori divers comes join us not even in the water but in the shore crews as well.

Wilson says “We've had the local iwi come down to a lot of our events blessing some of our events. One of the things we have discussed is that there is quite a big swing towards taking from Tangaroa, rather than giving back, and that is what Ghost Fishing NZ is all about is giving back to the ocean."

Ghost fishing NZ have held monthly dives since starting in 2014 and estimate they have pulled about 48-tonnes of rubbish from the waters around Wellington.

Dr Cox says "all the animals that are living on the bottles and in the street cones all have to be removed and put back into the marine environment again. Our shore crews play a really important part too so you don’t have to be a scuba diver, a free dover or a snorkeler you can just help out on the shore as well.”

The next Ghost Fishing clean up is Jan 26 at Frank Kitts Park Wellington.