Operation by Pierre-Yv Cousteau for the World Oceans Day
A 150-meter-long ghost fishing net was pulled out of the sea at the coast of Santorini by a group of volunteers, led by Pierre-Yv Cousteau, CEO, and founder of Cousteau Divers, a non-profitable organization dedicated to the union of divers to protect the marine life. The symbolic and particularly difficult operation aimed at raising public awareness about the problem of abandoned nets in Santorini and generally in the Greek seas.
The recovery of the net from a reef close to Ammoudi of Agios Nikolaos, in Santorini, took place on the World Oceans Day, by eight volunteer divers from the Netherlands, France, and Greece. The divers managed to remove the huge net from the seabed by using special “balloons”. The net, besides being a source of pollution to the sea, was also a trap for various forms of life. The operation lasted for a while, but a lot of preparation had been done. The net was later transferred to a special unit to get recycled.
The initiative belongs to Ghost Fishing organization, which deals with ghost nets, along with the organization Healthy Seas, Cousteau Divers and the local diving center Atlantis Oia. The ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the sea by fishermen. These nets, often nearly invisible in the dim light, can be left tangled on a rocky reef or drift in the open sea. They can entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other creatures, including the occasional human diver. Acting as designed, the nets restrict movement, causing starvation, laceration, infection, and suffocation for those who need to return to the surface to breathe.
A big challenge was broadcasting the operation in real time, with a two-way communication. “We hope that this will help people in Santorini and everywhere in the world understand the critical condition the seas are in, and unite in order to stop their destruction”, Pierre-Jacques Cousteau said. The son of the famous oceanographer and explorer Jan Cousteau has been supporting the creation of a marine protected area in Santorini for years, while a relative request was made to the authorities last year.
“The submarine geomorphology of Santorini was formed thousands of years ago by the volcanic eruption. Caldera, where the nets were found, is practically a gigantic lagoon with very sharp points that quickly reach a depth of 400 meters” said Pascal van Erp, founder of Ghost Fishing. “Therefore, the whole expedition required very rigorous dive planning and teamwork to safely remove the fishing net from the water”.