Mission accomplished! The relentless divers of Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive in Croatia have successfully completed one phase of Project Argo. In five days of diving, they stripped the bow of the wreck MS Argo of heavy trawler nets and other lost fishing gear. And while they were at it, the Ghost Fishing diving team also did some clean-up dives on the local reef and Luka Krnica harbor.
Cleaning up the MS Argo
- The wreck of the MS Argo lies in the Gulf of Kvarner, a shipping route with heavy traffic to the port city of Rijeka. The ship was a minesweeper in World War II and was converted to a reefer in peace time. The second career did not last too long: on January 22nd, 1948 the MS Argo ran on a sea mine on the way from Venice to Rijeka. It broke in two pieces and sunk – only one of the twelve crew members survived.
- Since 2001, people have enjoyed diving on the wreck of MS Argo. The diving depth is 45-50 meters and for experienced divers the trip to the MS Argo is an unforgettable experience. The only thing that somewhat spoiled the fun was the large amount of lost fishing gear on the wreck. For many years, Maurizio Grbac of Krnica Dive has been thinking of removing the nets for an unadulterated wreck dive experience. In late 2012, Team Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive joined forces and Project Argo was born. They rolled up their sleeves and started to clean the bow part of the wreck.
- In five dives large trawler nets were lifted from the cargo and front decks of the MS Argo. The total weight came to about 1500 kilos! From the bow and the front deck one huge trawler net with heavy steel-reinforced lines and otter boards was cut loose. Because of the enormity of this work and the limited dive time, team Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive decided to ‘park’ this big net on the sea floor beside the wreck. The floats were cut off and, for now, the net is lying flat on the sand.
Reef and port
- It’s alarming how many ghost nets were found on the local reef. Every afternoon, the diving team hauled up more and more fishing gear from the reefs and sand bed. They brought up gillnets, driftnets, several types of lobster cages, long lines, recreational fishing gear, yes, even a complete rod. In addition, the divers removed pieces of glass and plastic by the sackful.
- The port needed attention, too. During a cleaning dive the team came back with a large number of lobster cages. There were also lots of dumped and lost nets to be found here, but also tires, plastics, pieces of glass and lost anchors.
- It’s clear that both, reef and harbor deserve further attention in the future. The cleaning dives as part of Project Argo really only remove the tip of the iceberg. There are still plenty of ghost nets and other fishing gear left at the two locations, waiting to be rescued.
The people behind Project Argo have showed phenomenal motivation, diving skill, and relentless energy to make this happen. Healthy Seas is very proud of the results achieved. The success was made possible with the help of host Krnica Dive and thanks to the support of Scuba Academie, Global Underwater Explorers and of course our Healthy Seas initiative.
Our Ghost Fishing team will continue its mission to eliminate the problem of lost fishing gear in the Gulf of Kvarner, North Adriatic in 2014. This is the wish list (and to-do list) for the future:
- An educational project on biological impact on fauna and flora populations in the Adriatic Sea
- Teaming up and collaborating with local fishermen and other local parties
- Cleaning the stern of the MS Argo
- A follow-up project on the local reefs and port