Volunteers Clear Ghost Nets from the SS Epsilon in Falmouth Bay

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Volunteer divers and ghost net recovery charities have now cleared the SS Epsilon, in Falmouth Bay, of ghost fishing gear. The process has taken a long time with several visits from Atlantic Scuba, Fathoms Free, NARC and Ghost Fishing UK.

Over the last two years, in excess of two tons of fishing nets, pots and ropes have been recovered, recycled or safely disposed of. The last ghost gear removal on July 10th 2021, removed the last medium to large pieces, leaving only deeply embedded remnants. For many years, the SS Epsilon has been referred to as a ‘dirty’ wreck, with huge clumps of net tangled with or lying all over the wreck. Now it is virtually clean, it will be monitored regularly by local divers, to see if any more nets turns up. If any nets do turn up they can be investigated, to see whether they are new nets, old nets that have been rolling around the sea bed for many years, or, nets that have been buried on the site and uncovered by the shifting sea bed.

Luke Bullus of Fathoms Free said; “As a regular diver of the Epsilon with Atlantic Scuba, it’s great to see the wreck is finally clear of ghost gear. Clearing the wreck has been a great collective effort from all involved and it will be interesting to see if more lost and abandoned nets etc. appear on the wreck in the future. Really looking forward to being able to spend more time taking photos of the abundance of marine life found on the wreck rather than filling a mesh bag of ghost gear on every dive!”

Fred Nunn of Ghost Fishing UK said; “ It’s been very rewarding to be involved in the clean up of the wreck of the SS Epsilon. Between all the organisations involved there must have been over 10 projects/trips all with the goal to eventually clear the site of Ghost Gear. We are now in the position to have a cleared site to monitor closely and any changes can be documented and investigated for their origin. Plus it is one of my favourite local wrecks so that’s a bonus!”

Epsilon Clean Up
Fathoms Free. The last clean – Image credit: Mark Milburn

Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba said; “As one of the most dived wrecks in Falmouth Bay, the quantities of nets lying around it made it a less pleasant experience. Every time we took divers there, they always commented on the large amount of nets. We had been picking away at it for a while but with Fathom’s Free and Ghost Fishing UK spending days on site, it certainly made it happen much faster. Our divers will be keeping an eye out, in case any more ghost fishing gear turns up.”

Well done to all involved.

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Mark Milburn started diving late in life, at the age of 36 he did his PADI Open Water course. It wasn’t long before he got the bug. Now running his own dive centre, Atlantic Scuba, at Mabe near Falmouth in Cornwall, where Mark completes most of his 300-400 dives a year. As Mark says “it’s a mixture of teaching, commercial and fun dives, that gives me a healthy amount of underwater time each year”.

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