NARC in Action 2012

Skomer MNR May

With the water temp still not tropical to say the least, 8 volunteers dropped into the waters of Skomer Marine Nature Reserve (MNR) for the first visit of the year. After an hour or so in reasonable visibility everyone of the volunteers made it back, all ways a plus at the start of the clean-up season! Nearly 200 weights in the bags including line, hooks, cans and bottles saw us kick of 2012 with a reasonable haul.  NARC have been visiting Low Point and other sites in the MNR since 2005, we are hoping our site specific angling tips leaflet  assists visiting anglers here in minimising tackle loss at this stunning location. 

Long Mathew Point and Stackpole Quay June 02

Blue skies and clam seas were on offer as we left Dale at 8.00am on Saturday morning. Perfect conditions to head South and try out a new site which had never seen NARC volunteers before and fit in the first of 3 planned clean-up dives at Stackpole. Long Mathew Point came first as we rounded St Govans Head just in time for slack water,well planned or just lucky!? After a scramble to get ready 11 volunteers jumped in off the popular fishing ledge which also turned out to be a lovely dive site. 1 hour later and we had collected 70 weights, 200 hooks, meters of line, 1 lost lobster pot,various plastic bags, released 4 entangled spider crabs and 1 dog fish. A site that will definitely see us return again! 

Next came an old favourite, Stackpole Quay. Even after multiple visits to this site and after teaming up with the Pembrokeshire Federation of Angling Coaches to produce a site specific tackle tips leaflet there is still plenty to be found. Over an hours diving in 3 meter viz sometimes dodging casting lines saw us bag 328 weights, approx 300 hooks, line, a rod, knife,can, bottles and various bits of plastic. We also managed to release 2 hooked up dog fish which i’m sure were pretty happy to swim away.  One find which gave us great pleasure to send up to the surface was a lost lobster pot containing a number of spider crabs, 18 of which we managed to free back into the sea. It is important to remove these lost pots to stop them from ghost fishing for a number of years. After lunch anchored off the beautiful Barafundle beach it was back to busy Dale were the Jubilee celebrations were in full swing! A great effort by all the volunteers including some who were getting involved for the first time! To read what Conor Willmott, a new volunteer had to say about his first ever clean-up dive click here

Skomer MNR June 13th

The second visit of the year to Skomer Marine Nature Reserve saw 8 volunteers muck in for a mid-week clean-up of Low Point, a popular angling site along the Pembrokeshire coastline. Even with a current making things tricky we managed to bag 180 lead weights, 562 hooks, 2 rod pieces and 3 bottles. Not a bad haul considering we have been visiting this site every year for the last 7. We were almost caught out littering ourselves after a lifting bag failed on one of our trays! Luckily we managed to locate it washed up on the rocks with a full bag still inside. 

Fishguard June 16th

Whilst most of the sane folk were sheltering from a June storm that saw 25 knot winds, rain and 19 ft waves registering on the wave bouy us NARC folk had other ideas. 8 slightly mad and definitely wet volunteers left Fishguard harbour to clean 2 sites on the North Pembrokeshire coast. Even though the sea state was quite calm in the shelter of Strumble Head the swell had done nothing for the visibility. After an aborted trip to Strumble we jumped in to look at a new site just North of Pen Anglas. After an hour of fumbling around in less than 1 meter viz we had 30 weights and the same amount of hooks back on the boat. Some of our most experienced volunteers returned empty handed! Either this new site has anglers who don’t lose tackle or the lack of visibility made it impossible for us to find anything. Only a return visit will set the record straight. 

We decided to abandon our second dive on the grounds of safety and headed back in the pouring rain determined to give things another go next weekend, fingers crossed for some good weather. Big thanks to Celtic diving for the boat charter, warm tea and amusing music! 

Fishweek Milford Marina June 23

We have been present at Fishweek for the last few years as it is a fantastic way to raise awareness of marine litter and the work we do. Over 10,000 people were in attendance as we manned our stall handing out tackle tip leaflets and talked to people from all over the country. We even shared cake with the rest of the folk in the environment tent. All in all a great day of awareness raising.

Skomer MNR Wooltack Point July 17th

7 eager volunteers hit the water off Wooltack on a mid week clean-up. The awful summer weather has halted our weekend clean-ups on a number of occasions this year so we managed to squeeze in a dive during a mid week calm spell. Curse that Jet Stream!  With 2-3m viz and overcast skies, 30-40  minute dive times due to the tides, we managed to bag just over 100 weights, metres of line and numerous hooks. 

Hobbs Point July 27th

An evening dive kicking off at 1900 saw 10 volunteers hit the reasonably calm water off Hobbs Point. We visit this site within the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation multiple times over the season and our bounty never ceases to amaze. 3-4 metre viz which ranks as crystal clear for this dive site  left us with great conditions to collect amongst other things; a digi box/car sump/3 lost lobster pots/skate board/scooter/a 4 m length of piping/a complete rod and reel/90 wieghts amd endless amounts of line and hooks. We even managed to cut free lobsters which were entangled in line. We were kindly supported by 2 boats and 4 volunteers from the MVS with Keep Wales Tidy providing the skip. Even the mayor popped down to see us in action! 

Strumble Head August 6th

An 8.00 AM departure  from Fishguard left some  of our 9 volunteers climbing out of bed at 4 in the morning which shows the the kind of dedication or is it madness that us NARCers seem to have. That dedication/madness was needed again as an hours steaming left us rocking in the swell off a new ledge NE of Strumble Head light house. 8 divers descended into less than 1 metre viz that once again proved quite challenging. Our quest to collect under water footage was put on hold as our trusty cameraman “could’nt see the end of his video housing never mind anything to film.”  We did somehow manage to find 87 weights, hooks and line, not too bad for a new site that we couldn’t quite see! 

Our surface interval found us in calm waters, sitting in deck chairs, sunbathing (in-between showers), listening to Jazz and eating some of Dave “Derick” Ks lovely vegan cake. A very unique way of killing time aboard wondering star! The second dive began in more murky waters off Fishguard breakwater where items hauled to the surface included 47 weights, 30 hooks, line, knife and 2 lost lobster pots. One of the pots contained 5 spider crabs and a lobster which were returned back to the sea where we also managed to cut free an entangled lobster which was snagged in monofilament line. A really satisfactory dive which was made memorable by the very loud underwater sound of the Stenna ferry leaving port! Big thanks to Celtic diving and all the volunteers.

Fishguard Harbour August 7th

Andrew Hughes, a new volunteer for 2012, looks back on Sunday’s dive: 

“After Saturday’s early wake up in the pouring rain, I was relieved to finally see some sunshine on Sunday morning.  Yet again, we were back out on Wandering Star from Fishguard, but this time the visibility was on our side.   We visited a few sites, including the break water at the harbour, and found everything from lobster pots and lead weights to a thermos flask.  We literally never know what we’ll retrieve each time. “

“Our founder Dave Kennard also did a good deed in lengthening the rope on a string of pots for some local fishermen. In fact, it’s Dave that never ceases to amaze me on these dives.  Every single time we do a clean-up he always points out new amazing creatures I’ve never seen.  On Sunday he pointed out tiny little star fish – I’ve no idea how he spots them – I swear he carries them around in his pocket!  I only started diving with Neptune’s Army this year, but already I am raving about it.  Sunday was up there with one of my favourite clean-ups this year and luckily I didn’t see a drop of rain until driving back home through Carmarthen.”

Skomer Marine Nature Reserve August 12th

Slightly overcast skies topside but down below the visibility god was shining on us in the waters of Skomer MNR. A staggering 10+ metres provided a refreshing alternative to lots of our clean-up dives so far this year. 8 volunteers headed from Dale aboard Volsung to clean a site that has seen us visit dozens of times over the years. After all the effort at Low Point we do finally feel that we are getting on top of things at this popular fishing ledge and perhaps our site specific tackle tips leaflets are working! 126 wights, 274 hooks and spinners, 1 rod tip, a bottle and a can were sent to the surface from the seabed in an hours dive time, amazing what you can do when you can actually see! Big thanks again to all our volunteers, a huge welcome to our new volunteers and thumbs up to Andy the skipper.

South Pembrokeshire August 26th

One sunny calm day over the bank holiday and it turned out to be a diving day! We managed to somehow get out between 2 stormy days, a typical bank holiday weekend. An early 8 AM start from Dale with 8 volunteers saw us pack all our cleaning equipment, food and even some sunscreen on board Volsung and head to the South of the county. An old favourite, Stackpole Quay and 2 new sites were waiting to be explored. More to follow….

Cardiff October 24th

NARC were invited along with a total of 20 projects who were aptly chosen as the initiative celebrates its 20th year of providing grants and developmental support to voluntary organisations within Wales. The 20 projects were selected as they exemplify one of the four core objectives of Environment Wales. Each distinctive project will receive a presentation of a green glass oak leaf from Alan Underwood, Chair of the Environment Wales grants advisory panel and a former Development Officer, who has been involved with the initiative since its inception in 1992. 

Pembrokeshire October

NARC have been involved in a working group led by the Marine Conservation Society to develop a “Hang onto your tackle” campaign. More to follow…..