New project: Collection of ghost nets in the marine nature reserve Øresund

Aug 1, 2023 | Project

Ocean Plastic Forum has received 4 million Danish kroner in support from the A.P. Møllerske Støttefond to register and collect ghost nets and lost fishing gear in the newly established marine nature reserve, Øresund. The project, which spans over 2½ years, is carried out in collaboration with the Danish Sports Diving Association, volunteers, and professional divers.

In 2021, the Danish Parliament decided to establish two marine nature reserves, one of which is located in Øresund, already designated as a Natura 2000 area due to its rich biodiversity and important spawning and breeding grounds. Unfortunately, the area is under pressure from fishing, maritime activities, and plastic pollution, with ghost nets – often found on wrecks – being one of the sources when they break down into microplastics that enter the food chain.

Thomas Alstrup, the Secretary-General of the Ocean Plastic Forum, states: “Nature reserves – whether on land or at sea – should naturally be free of waste. We don’t have landfills and waste floating around in Mols Bjerge or National Park Thy either. The support from the A.P. Møllerske Støttefond is crucial because the funds allocated nationally to remove ghost nets and lost fishing gear in our waters are entirely inadequate given the scale of the problem.”

Jesper Risløv, Chairman of the Danish Sports Diving Association, emphasizes that “ecological restoration should also take place beneath the sea’s surface – a world that is normally invisible to us. We want to address that. Therefore, our cleanup of ghost nets in Øresund will also serve as the basis for a series of documentaries produced by Ukendt Media and Copenhagen Cartel so that a broader audience can get an insight into the conditions down on the seabed and how we can improve the marine environment.” Watch the first program of the series “Under overfladen” below.

Jesper Risløv is excited that the project heavily relies on involving volunteers, as the 600 sports divers and 30 diving clubs in the Capital Region will have the opportunity to help search for and identify areas with the most ghost nets. However, for safety reasons, the actual release and collection of nets from wrecks and sites in Øresund will be carried out by professional divers from the diving company HBC Group.

The prioritization of the safety of those involved, as well as the project’s focus on archaeological and historical considerations when removing ghost nets from wrecks in Øresund, has – in addition to the project’s evident environmental and educational strengths – been an important condition for the A.P. Møllerske Støttefond to contribute to the project, as emphasized by foundation advisor Mads Thuneberg.

For further information and updates on the project’s progress, please visit our project page and LinkedIn.