Scuba divers from Spanish marine conservation group Equilibrio Marino have removed a 600m fishing net from the Mediterranean Sea off Malaga city beach. In the process they released dozens of fish and crabs that had been trapped in the net, though reporting that hundreds of others had already died.
Their discovery was not an abandoned ghost-net but an active illegal net stretched between rocks. The group’s director Fernando Alarcón came across it while carrying out a scientific study of invasive Asian algae with Eleazar Pereiro, who runs the Scubazul diving centre based in Torremolinos.
The divers spent more than two hours carefully cutting through the mesh in a bid to free small grouper, bass, bream, octopuses and crabs without hurting them, as can be seen in this video. They then set about working with the crews of two of Malaga town council’s boats to remove the net itself.
“We couldn’t leave it there because it was dangerous for people, not just marine life,” Pereiro told the regional newspaper SUR. “We grabbed new air tanks and went straight down to get it out, because there were already people swimming nearby.”
According to SUR, two weeks earlier student divers from Malaga University had come across another large net while carrying out a fish count in the same area. They too had managed to release much of the marine life that had not already been killed, before succeeding in cutting away two 20m sections.
Their air supplies had not allowed them to remove more, but they planned to enlist more volunteers to remove what was reckoned to be as much as 200m of remaining net.