For years the Duik de Noordzee Schoon expedition has operated trying to clean up the mess that is left behind on the many shipwrecks in the NorthSea.
The expedition sets out twice a year on a multiday expedition to research and remove fishing gear off the many shipwrecks that are to be found on the seafloor between the European mainland and the UK.
In June 2016 I was lucky enough to be a part of this expedition aboard the Cdt. Fourcault as a photographer.
This portfolio contains images that show the process of planning the expedition, finding the wrecks, the hard labor underwater and the research that is done.
Divers cut free large parts of a variety of fishing gear (amongst which deadly gillnets) that continue taking a toll on marine life. Ghostfishing is a problem encountered in the NorthSea all too often.
More then once divers get stuck underwater because of the ravel of thick fishing line, much like the animals that also become entangled in the mess we people leave behind.
After the nets are cut free from the wreck sites the divers either put lifting balloons on the nets themselves or they use former postal bags to transport the material to the surface.
Once lifted on the ship's deck the bags are weighed first to be able to keep track of the amount of removed nets.
Biologists then cooperate with other divers to analyze the life that is found on the removed fishing nets. The different species encountered are analyzed, estimated and samples are taken.
Most of the time the nets contain a large amount of fishing tackle that sportfishermen have lost when fishing on the wreck sites.
When all analysis is done the nets are put in bigbags, ideally on the helicopter deck since the smell is almost unbearable!
With its incredible passionate team of voluntary support divers, biologists, archeologists and cinematographers the expedition salvaged approximately 2000kg of lost fishing gear.
Below a short video including some drone clips from the expedition: