DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) has published a consultation on the regulation surrounding removing litter and rubbish from the seabed, including lost fishing nets and pots.
You may be surprised to learn that, at the moment, volunteers who try to clean up old fishing gear which traps and injures wildlife, have to pay for a government license to do so. DEFRA has now put out a consultation to look at waiving the fees and applying exemptions to divers doing this work. This means money raised for ghost fishing projects can be directed into cleaning up the ocean rather than paying for 'red tape'.
This is something that BSAC has been actively lobbying for both formally, and informally, at the highest levels. Ministers have accepted that change needs to occur but all changes have to be consulted upon. That is why we need your help.
BSAC needs your help
BSAC will of course formally respond to this latest consultation, drawing on the expertise and experiences of our members to make sure that our response is evidence-based and persuasive.
We would therefore like your help. There are two things you can do:
- We are particularly interested in any stories people have where marine licensing has caused them difficulties or discouraged them from removing litter or abandoned fishing gear. If you have such a story, please get in touch by emailing GhostFishingConsultation2018@bsac.com
- In Government consultations, numbers matter. Whilst BSAC will formally respond as the National Governing Body for Diving and Snorkelling, you can also respond to the consultation and help us reach the right outcome.
Please reply directly to Defra - consult.defra.gov.uk/marine-planning-licensing paying close attention to Section 5 - it is what really matters to divers and the Ghost Fishing efforts so, if you are short of time, you can just complete that section and put “Neither agree nor disagree” in other sections.
Together we can get the Government to make this needed change and help clean up our oceans for all.