Project Argo – Ghost Fishing

Project Argo: Results at a glance

Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive in Croatia have just successfully completed Project Argo. In five days of diving, the bow of the wreck MS Argo is stripped of heavy trawler nets and other lost fishing gear. The Ghost Fishing diving team also completed some cleanup dives on the local reef and the local harbor Luka Krnica.

MS Argo

* The wreck of the MS Argo is located 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 long: on January 22nd, 1948 the MS Argo ran on a sea mine on the way from Venice to Rijeka. Only one of the twelve crew members survived. The ship broke in two pieces and sunk.

results5* Since 2001, people have dived 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. So far, there was however one negative aspect: the large amount of lost fishing gear on the wreck. For years already, Maurizio Grbac of Krnica Dive had the idea to remove the many nets. Team Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive joined forces in late 2012 and Project Argo was born. The work in this first project was focused on the bow part of the wreck.
* In five dives large trawler nets are removed and lifted from MS Argo cargo deck and front deck. The total weight is approx. 1500 kilos! From the bow and the front deck one huge trawler net with heavy steel-reinforced lines and otter boards is cut loose. Because of the enormity of this work and the limited dive time on the wreck, team Ghost Fishing and Krnica Dive decided to ‘park’ this big net just beside the wreck on the sea floor. The floats are cut off and the net is now lying flat on the sand.

results1Reef and port
* The large amount of ghost nets on the local reef is a big concern. Every afternoon, the diving team removed large amounts lost fishing gear up from the reefs and sand bed. There were gillnets, driftnets, long lines, recreational fishing gear (including a complete rod) and several types of lobster cages. In addition, large amounts of glass and plastic were removed during the dives.

results4* The port also deserves attention. During a cleaning dive the team came back with a large number of lobster cages. Furthermore: dumped and lost nets, tires, plastic, glass and lost anchors.
* Both reef and harbor deserve further attention in the future. The cleaning dives during Project Argo were only the tip of the iceberg. There is still a large amount of ghost nets and other fishing gear left at the two locations.

Result
Ghost Fishing is proud of the results achieved. The success is also due to host Krnica Dive and other participants in the project: this project was made possible thank to the support of Scuba Academie, Global Underwater Explorers and Healthy Seas.
Ghost Fishing would like to eliminate the problem this lost fishing gear causes in the Gulf of Kvarner, North Adriatic. On our wish list:

results2 (1)Future
* Biological impact on fauna and flora populations in the Adriatic Sea
* An educational project
* Setting up collaboration with local fishermen and other local parties
* Cleaning the stern of the MS Argo
* A follow-up project on the local reefs and port