Malta has cleared the underwater site of a Royal Navy WWI minesweeping vessel that sank in 1916 of discarded fishing nets and other ‘ghost gear’.
The Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit (UCHU) of Heritage Malta organised the removal of nets at the site of HMS Nasturtium.
Heritage Malta said about 12 million tons of plastics end up in the oceans per year, and abandoned or lost fishing equipment, also known as ghost nets, make up around 10 percent of the total waste.
Ghost equipment is usually durable and remains in the sea for many decades, posing a risk to divers and wildlife.
Due to the dangers ghost nets pose, an increasing number of initiatives have been launched locally and globally to directly target the problem.
Surveys carried out by local divers at wreck sites in Malta have noted where the worst spots are.
Heritage Malta and local dive company Atlam Sub Aqua Club launched a cleanup project at some of the underwater sites.
From May to July, the initiative focused on the site of HMS Nasturtium about 10 kilometres from the coast of the capital Valletta.
Taking part in a series of dives, participants cleared the site of the ghost gear lying around the seabed.
HMS Nasturtium, launched in December 1915 and based in Malta, was a minesweeping sloop built during World War I by the Royal Navy.
The vessel left Malta on 24th April 1916 and was ordered to return to check for submarines and marines in the area.
Three days later on 27th April, HMS Nasturtium went into a minefield that sank the HMS Russell battleship earlier that day and also hit an explosive.
Early on 28th April, the listing vessel sank and settled on the seabed in an upright position at a depth of around 67 metres.
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Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub-Editor: James King, Agency: Newsflash
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