A Welsh NGO, Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Collectors (NARC), held an event with commercial fishermen last week to celebrate its achievements to date and raise wider awareness across the Welsh fishing community of the services it offers.
Formed in 2005 by Dave Kennard and a group of like- minded local divers, NARC has built up a close working relationship with the inshore fleet around its base in South Wales, with benefits to both the local environment and for the local industry.
Dave Kennard explained: “Since 2005 we’ve performed over 2,000 clean-up dives around the local coastline. We work closely with the local inshore fleet, who now know to call us if they have lost gear.
“There can be a lot of mistrust between fishermen and divers, but we’ve worked hard to overcome that. Our aim at NARC is to do what we can to clean up the coastal environment and limit any impact on it, and the more we can help local fishermen reduce gear losses and ghost fishing, the better.
“It is not just fishing gear – we have removed quite a lot of other debris as well, where appropriate, to dispose of ashore, and are always keen to hear from other fishing vessels about this.”
Local skipper Mark Gainforth of the inshore vessel Lily May M 8 participated in the exercise, where a fleet of lost pots were located and recovered for him by NARC’s team. Unusually, the pots at each end of the fleet were both firmly snagged on fasteners, and therefore easy to locate.
He said: “The fishermen here work well with Dave and the NARC divers – over the years we have built a strong relationship. They work really hard to help us retrieve lost gear – we provide details and co-ordinates as soon as we have lost any gear. It saves us money, reduces impact on the environment, and is one small part of what we can do to look after the sea.”
Fellow skipper Scott Lewis of the Brian Arther M 50, which fishes a mixture of pots, lines and nets for crab, lobster, whitefish and bass over the course of the year, also welcomed the work of NARC, saying: “NARC has a pretty high success rate in the retrieval of lost gear. I think their scheme is great.
“All our pots have escape panels fitted, to minimise any possible ghost fishing, but of course it is better all round for the gear to be recovered from the seabed, and this is about more than just saving money and lost time.
“Any concerns about trust between the two groups here has disappeared, and we are very happy to work with NARC. It would be great to see them get some external funding, and extend the benefits of their work further along the coast.”
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.