Amateur Scuba Divers Train to Be "Ghost Net Busters"

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
CC BY 2.0. Derek Keats

Abandoned fishing gear is a big problem. But a small army is training to tackle it.

As the world waits for trackable, biodegradable fishing nets—and for the fishing industry in general to get serious about its waste problem—abandoned fishing nets continue to make up a startling percentage of the trash that's found in the oceans. This problem is particularly pernicious because fishing nets kill marine life by design, meaning any that are left floating around are almost certainly going to result in collateral damage.

Luckily, there's a new front in the fight against so-called ghost nets. Conservation International is working with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) on a course that trains any certified recreational diver to safely remove rogue fishing gear from the ocean so that it can be disposed of safely, and perhaps even recycled into something more useful.

We've seen before how divers can make a difference in removing ghost nets or even rescuing sharks who've gotten themselves entangled. But a training course could help make such efforts both safer and far more widespread.

In much the same way that 2 Minute Beach Cleans are creating a decentralized army that's making a real difference, this effort could also create a force to be reckoned with. By recruiting the huge number of amateur divers—folks who see first hand the impact that trash has on their beloved ocean—there's a real chance of scaling up ghost net removal efforts, as well as increasing public awareness and creating pressure for the industry to act.

This is good stuff. And it's just one way that PADI is giving back to the oceans. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a centralized list of where this course is available (if anyone knows, please post in the comments below.) But for now, please check out some early recruits in action: