NARC in Action 2015

Folly Farm April 20th 

Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn Special School in Swansea have chosen to raise awareness and money for NARC in a new book aimed at helping children when visiting Folly Farm. NARC attended the book launch and look forward to working with the school in the future. For more details click here.

Folly Farm April 25th

The volunteers of local dive group Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC) have teamed up with Folly Farm to educate visitors on the dangers of marine litter and the impact it can have on wildlife. Based for a day at Penguin Coast at Folly Farm, a team of divers from the local voluntary group joined forces with a giant penguin mascot and Folly Farm colleagues to draw in the crowds and spend some time raising awareness and welcoming contributions towards NARC’s efforts.  Thanks to the interest on the day sparked by activities such as face painting and penguin bingo, more than £500 was raised.  This brought the fundraising total to £1000 thanks to a further donation from Folly Farm for £500. The full press release can be found here.

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone May 9th

4 volunteer divers braved the 10 degree water temp to kick off the NARC 2015 cleaning season. This is the first of a number of events planned for Skomer this year. A sunny day and a 10 AM start from Dale saw pretty decent 4-5 metre viz greet two buddies teams at East Hook and Low Point. Along with sightings of Octopus and Crayfish 4 divers recorded:

Low Point – 201 weights / 125 Hooks/line / 3 spark plugs
East Hook – 54 weights / 35 hooks/line / 2 spark plugs/1 rod /1 reel

Hobbs Point May 31st

8 volunteer divers and 7 shore helpers mucked in on our first of many planned visits to Hobbs this year. A windy wave chopped sea state looked much better underwater with 3 metre viz making things easier than normal. We managed to release a hooked dog fish. Divers recorded:

30 weights/1 rod/1 lobster pot / Line/2 spark plugs / 11 bottles/2 cans / 2 mugs/hosepipe / Rope/2 car radio speakers / 1 pushbike/1 scooter / 2 spark plugs/1 rod /1 reel

Stackpole Quay and Barafundle ledges June 13th

4 volunteer divers left a sunny Dale at 0830 and were greeted by a staggering 10 metre + of viz. This is the first of a number of events planned for the Stackpole area this year. Along with sightings of an abundance of sea slugs and dog fish, they recorded a Crayfish and a baby Anglerfish. 1 dog fish was released from a lost angling rig and a spider crab untangled from line. At Barafundle ledges 2 dead dogfish were found entangled and hooked. Divers recorded:

Stackpole Quay – 101 weights/42 / hooks/line / 3 bottles/2 cans / 3 spark plugs
Barafundle Ledges – 42 weights/line

Watch house Point June 14th

After a morning chat with some local fishermen 4 volunteers went on a lost lobster pot hunt. After diving a stretch of coast from Watch house Point to Dale in 8 metres of viz Narc volunteers managed to find and retrieve 40 lost pots. A fantastic effort in 10 metres of water that tested our lifting bags and gear to the max. The dive was supported by the local fisherman and the pots were handed back. In the process of retrieval 12 crabs/14 spider crabs and 10 lobsters were released from ghost fishing gear. Divers recorded:

Watch house point – 40 lobster pots

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone June 26th

4 volunteers and 5 metre viz helped in finding, bagging and sending 8 lost pots to the surface from the North Wall of Skomer. We were dropped in on a couple of shot lines put down by local fisherman to mark the lost pots. One of the shot lines went slightly deep meaning a buddy pair were unable to locate them, next time! Divers recorded:

North Wall – 8 lost pots

St Ann’s Head July 9th 

Continuing our efforts to assist fishermen in removing lost fishing gear we headed towards St Ann’s Head after reports from local fishermen. 4 volunteer divers headed out towards St Ann’s Head to look for a string of 10 pots. Sadly after trying for over 45 minutes we were unable to locate the pots and returned to the boat.

Collier wreck in Milford Haven July 9th

The 2nd dive of the day saw us joined by two local fishermen in an effort to locate and retrieve lost gear around a well know ship wreck, the Collier. 5 metre viz helped in finding, bagging and sending 8 lost pots and rope to the surface. Some of the pots were ghost fishing and a number of undersized shellfish were returned to the water by the fishermen who were also reacquainted with their gear. We also found a large commercial fishing net but were unable to send it as it was buried in sediment. Divers recorded:

Collier Wreck – 8 lost pots and rope

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone July 10th

Our first visit of the year to Wooltack Point saw us change tack and move from targeting commercial gear to recreational angling. 8 volunteer divers jumped into 3 metre viz and bagged weights, hooks and line. We also cut free an entangled Pink Sea Fan that was smothered in line. Next up dive 2 and 3 were aimed at wrecks after reports of lost pots. On the Behar we recovered metres of lost rope and on the Matronna more rope and pipe.  Divers recorded:

Wooltack Point – 32 weights / 66 hooks / Line
Behar – Metres of rope
Matronna –  Metres of rope / Plastic Pipe / 1 Bottle

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone July 11th

With 9 volunteer divers on board we met up with local fisherman looking for a lost string of pots in the vicinity of  the Garland Stone and Bull Hole however due to the sea state becoming challenging we had to postpone our plans. Due to it being our tenth year and as a thank you to the volunteers Plan B was a dive on the North side of Middleholm where the 4-5 metre viz enabled us to locate a huge old anchor,  retrieved 1 lost lobster pot and some rope.

Our 2nd dive of the year at Low Point was aimed more at recreational angling where we found and collected weights, line and hooks. We also unhooked an entangled dog fish and with wind, waves and opposing tides enjoyed (not sure if that is the correct word) a very adventurous journey home! Divers recorded:

Middleholm – 1 lost pot and rope
Low Point – 105 weights / 110 hooks / Spark plug

Middleholm and Skomer Marine Conservation Zone August 10th

With 8 volunteer divers on board we once again met up with local fisherman looking for lost pots. The North side of Middleholm came first where 6 metre viz enabled us drop down into the warming waters and locate 7 pots. 6 lobsters, 1 wrasse, 2 edible crab and 6 spider crabs were released. Unfortunately we also managed to lose the dive ladder off the boat, something we hope to retrieve on a future dive!

We aimed our other dive at potential angling litter and headed to to two spots we have cleaned many times before. Low Point cam first were we dropped 4 divers into 5 metre viz. we released an entangled spider crab from mono filament line and bagged the usual weights, line and hooks. East Hook seemed much cleaner from a litter point of view – perhaps our tackle tips leaflets are working!? We only found 6 weights, line and hooks freeing a hooked trigger fish that swam off relieved to be free again.  Divers recorded:

Middleholm – 7 lost pots
Low Point / East Hook – 126 weights / 130 hooks / line

Stackpole Quay August 23rd

After Fridays planned clean-up being called off due to the weather we thought we would ignore the Met Office yellow  warning for heavy rain and thunder and head off to Stackpole. An 8 AM start meant a 5 AM rise for our volunteers travelling from Bridgend and Carmarthen. Considering the forecast and the the fact it was hammering down a great effort! 6 volunteers either already  in dry suits or wearing water proofs left Dale for the fairly lengthy but always spectacular trip along the Castlemartin coast.

4 metre viz wasn’t bad considering the weather and the fact it was raining meant there were no anglers on the ledges and no moving feathers to avoid underwater. Although aimed at angling litter we still found two lost pots and released two spider crabs and a velvet. A dog fish was also cut free from entanglement. There were lots of small pollock, pouting and bass on the dive which was a great to see. After about 50 mins the team of six sent the lifting bags up which amongst other things contained lots of line which was snagged in the kelp. Good to get that mono-filament out of the water.

Back on the boat we enjoyed a pretty splendid bit home made cake baked the evening before by Dave K – who then spent quite a bit of time unblocking the toilet. The incidents were unrelated and elevated Dave to being the skippers best mate! Divers recorded:

Stackpole Quay – 32 weights / 76 hooks and lots of line/2 reels/2 rods / 2 spark plugs/2 cans/1 bottle/ cloth/3 plastic / bags/1 battery/ 1 golf ball/ 1 BBQ

Hobbs Point Sept 6th

5 volunteer divers joined in for our second visit of the year to Hobbs. One of our sites that you never quite know what you are going to find and it didn’t fail in delivering a range on non-nautical items! The viz wasn’t great but then it often isnt!

We managed to free an entangled dog fish and divers recorded:

Hobbs  Point – 22 weights / 20 hooks and line/1 rod and reel / 2 crab lines/1 can/8 bottle/ rope/1 lighter/ 1 battery/ 1 shoe/ 3 / pieces of metal/ 4 plastic bags/ 2 hammers/1 saw/81 mm shell/car mirror/power sander/pint glass

Porthlysgi  Sept 7th

Working with World Animal Protection we left Dale at 8 AM with 10 volunteers on board. After yesterdays focus on fly-tipping we turned our intentions to lost commercial gear and headed North to meet up with some local fishermen who had knowledge of lost gear.

We split the team into “pot hunters and net hunters” and got to work.  Less than 1 metre of viz, a little bit of current and a depth of 24 metres kept things interesting. The first dive provided 13 pots of which 12 were ghost fishing. 11 lobsters, 21 edible crabs, 12 spider crabs, 2 velvet swimming crabs and 1 wrasse were removed from the pots which were then handed back to fishermen.  Dive 2 and 3 was focussed on retrieving what turned out to be 2 whelk pots, line and 4 types of commercial net all entangled together which was estimated to be over 1 ton.

Getting the net on board proved to be a challenge as we started to drift into Ramsey Sound. A huge collaborative effort including Derek Rees in the boat ‘Island Trader’ and Greg Morgan RSPB warden on Ramsey Island saw us finally get the whole mess on board! Huge thanks to everyone who helped in what was one of NARCs biggest ever hauls! Read more about the day here 

Divers recorded:

Dive 1 – 13 lost pots and metres of line
Dive 2 and 3 – 2 lost whelk pots / Approx 1.5 tons of commercial nets

Sept 10th and 11th

NARC were honoured to be invited to the launch of Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) in London. The two day event brought together leading experts, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Marine Stewardship Council, Young’s seafood and Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery to share their knowledge and expertise to ensure safer, cleaner oceans.

Mike Baker, Chief Executive of World Animal Protection, said: “Ghost gear is a largely hidden problem, but millions of dolphins, seals, whales and seabirds become trapped and die because of it. “In order to have safer, cleaner oceans we need sustainable solutions on a global scale. “This initiative brings real hope that these solutions can be found, with industry, governments, charities and academics all pulling together to free the oceans of Ghost Gear.”

NARC Secretary, David Jones who attended the event, said, “It was fantastic to be invited to an event that was truly global. For our volunteer group, now in its tenth year, to exchange views and be part of an event with such potential to help on a worldwide setting is really exciting. We cant wait to share what we do locally in Pembrokeshire and are really pleased to be part of a working group in the GGGI.”

Dave Kennard, NARC Chair added, “Working with local fisherman has seen us lift over 90 lobster pots this year. Without their help this would not be possible. We look forward to working with the fishing industry in Wales to try and lesson the impacts of ghost gear whilst still cleaning up more general marine litter, hopefully for at least another ten years!”

Sept 16th

Pembrokeshire Coast Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners initiative shortlisted for the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector of the Year Award. Cleaning the seabed of rubbish and removing discarded fishing equipment to enhance our marine environment have been recognised in this year’s annual Campaign for National Parks Park Protector of the Year Award.

The Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC), which operates off the Pembrokeshire Coast project is one of five exciting conservation, heritage and amenity projects in the running for the Campaign for National Parks’ prestigious annual Park Protector Award, sponsored by the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.

It has been shortlisted following judging from a total of 15 projects. The winning entry – to be announced at the end of the month, will receive £2,000 at a parliamentary reception in London on 21 October.

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive, said she was delighted by the variety and impressed with the quality of projects entered this year: “We have had some excellent, innovative projects which have shown how working in partnership with others can have a real and lasting positive impact on communities across our National Parks.”

Award sponsors Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust judge Jeremy Colls, added he was pleased with the range of projects nominated this year: “These are generally strong projects which reflect well on the diversity and utility of work within the National Parks. Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners is tackling an unglamorous and largely unseen but very harmful blight on the littoral fringes of a coastal park.”

Sept 19th

A bright sunny September day with only a breath of wind was a great start to what turned out to be a record breaking day for NARC. 12 volunteers left Dale at 0800 with a potential record number of dives ahead. Once again, working with local fishermen had enabled us to plan between 6 and 7 dives over the day, spread across a number of locations in Pembrokeshire.

First up came the wreck of the Dakotion where 4 divers and 2 metre viz allowed us to locate 7 lots pots and release 3 lobsters and 6 edible crabs. The Caroline was next on the hit list with 3 divers removing 2 large clumps of rope. Leaving the Haven behind we headed to Ramsey to meet a local fisherman. We had two sites and a limited amount of slack water so 2 NARC volunteers jumped on board the fishing boat and headed off to Ramsey whilst 5 of us jumped in at Silvia Rock. An hour later we had lifted 14 pots taking us into 3 figures for the year! From the 4 pots at Silva we released 2 lobsters, 10 edible crab, 1 spider crab and a wrasse. No time to celebrate records – the Hen and Chicks was next on our list.

3 volunteers recovered 2 lost pots and released 1 pipefish. Another planned meeting with fishermen saw us head south to Sheep Island. Thankfully the sun was still shining, the teas were flowing and there was even bacon butties to keep things on track. 3 volunteer divers, 5 meter viz and another 4 pots sent to the surface. We released 6 lobsters and 1 wrasse with all pots ghost fishing. After reports of a tangle net being lost 2 volunteers went in as the sun began to sink towards the horizon. The tangle net turned out to be a string of 22 lost prawn pots which were sent by lifting bags up to the boat. All the pots were ghost fishing and with time not on our side it was impossible to note the amount of species. We did however return juvenile spider crabs, whelks,scorpion fish, lumpsucker, dog fish, rockling, pollock and pipefish. All the pots were returned to the fishermen and we made it to the end of a very successful day of NARCing. A record 49 pots were lifted and we managed to visit 7 sites in one day! Huge thanks to all the volunteers, the skipper and crew and the local fishermen for providing us with detailed locations.

Divers recorded:
– 7 lost lobster pots
Caroline– 2 large clumps of lost rope
Silvia Rock – 4 lost lobster pots
Ramsey Island – 10 lobster pots with snagged rope
Hen and Chicks – 2 lost pots
Sheep Island – 4 lost pots
Monk Haven – 22 lost prawn pots

Oct 17th

Our last dive of the year was funded by a local fishermen who we have worked with on a number of occasions in 2015.  We left Dale with 6 volunteers on board and BBC Wales to cover the story. Unfortunately, due to the conditions we were unable to locate the lost pots, even with the fisherman on hand to provide directions.