12 January 2009

Experienced diver thought he was going to die when trapped in a fishing net

"He didn't see the net and swam right into it," explained a diving instructor.

"He soon became totally entangled as he struggled to get free. At first he couldn't release himself. The net wrapped itself around his air cylinder and mask like a spider's web. It was only after about 15 or 20 minutes that he managed to cut himself free. He thought he was going to die."

It was only after releasing himself that he saw the seal pup that had been killed by the net.

Terror as diver is trapped in net
thisisplymouth.co.uk
9 Jan 09;
AN EXPERIENCED diver thought he was going to die after getting caught up in fishing nets which killed a seal pup.

The dive club member was diving near the 'Asia' green buoy opposite the Waterfront restaurant when the incident occurred on Thursday.

Diving in the same area he had visited for years, the diver was about eight or nine metres from the surface following a 30-metre dive when he became entangled.

The diver, who does not wish to be identified, told a close friend he had been terrified by the experience

"He didn't see the net and swam right into it," said his friend, diving instructor Dougie Allen from the Aquanauts dive company.

"He soon became totally entangled as he struggled to get free", Dougie explained.

"At first he couldn't release himself. The net wrapped itself around his air cylinder and mask like a spider's web.

"It was only after about 15 or 20 minutes that he managed to cut himself free.

"He thought he was going to die. It was only after releasing himself that he saw the seal pup. That's terribly sad."

On inspection, the net stretched out for at least 50 metres. It was two metres in height.

Thousands of harbour porpoises, dolphins, whales, seals, turtles, sharks and seabirds die due to entanglement in such gill nets every year, which can be anchored or free-floating. Free floating gill nets are referred to as drift nets.

The Dockyard Port of Plymouth Order 1999 states that it is an offence to trawl or use fishing nets within Plymouth Sound. Fines can be up to £1,000.

One of the reasons is because Plymouth Sound is home to the rare fan shell, which is one of the rarest molluscs in the UK and a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

After consultation within the maritime community through the Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum and the Port of Plymouth Maritime Liaison Committee, a series of measures to safeguard the habitat were introduced.

The Queen's Harbour Master's office at The Longroom told The Herald that since the incident they had been made aware of the net, but declined to comment further.

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