Dutch volunteers head for English waters. Here’s why…

With the marine environment very much on the agenda, The Dutch Dive the North Sea Clean Foundation (DtNC) departed yesterday, Thursday 14 June, for their 12th diving expedition in the North Sea aboard the Cdt. Fourcault.
For the first time she operates internationally. Expedition North Sea 2018 is dedicated to discovering and cleaning wrecks in England and the Netherlands.
30 experienced volunteer divers remove waste during the 10 day expedition at 20 locations (in particular ghost nets, lead, fishing hooks and lures), liberate animals, collect biological and archaeological data and photograph and film. See the map below for the expedition route and the marine protected areas.

“With this expedition we want to bring both the beauty, vulnerability and litter of the North Sea to the attention of the general public,” says Ben Stiefelhagen, Expedition leader and founder DtNC.
Cleaning has a high priority because nets, lines and other rubbish break off slowly into smaller pieces which are difficult to remove from the sea. In addition to cleaning, there are other activities on the programme:
  • The expedition ship Cdt. Fourcault sails first to wrecks near the Dutch coast where a pilot is started with a photogrammetry scan; a method to image wrecks in 3D.
  • From there, the team sails to biologically interesting Natura2000 protected areas on the border between the Netherlands and England, including the Brown Ridge and the Dogger Bank, where unique species  were previously observed and expected again.
  • The divers dive on various wrecks, including a sunken oil production platform.
  • In English waters, the team visits the enormous Southern North Sea marine protected area for Harbour Porpoises. We’ll then move northwest to Coquet to St Mary’s, Farnes East, and Berwickshire and North Northumberland protected areas (protecting reefs and rich muds). This farthest destination of the expedition is also a special bird nature area, also known for its fish-rich waters with kelp and numerous grey seals.

DtNC cooperates with the UK Marine Conservation Society to guide its actions in UK waters and to inform policy makers and the general public in UK about the expedition and its results.
“The North Sea Foundation helps on board and tells the story of this expedition. This is how we show the Netherlands our beautiful North Sea, which is more than worth it!” Floris van Hest, Director of the North Sea Foundation.

Cleaning ship’s propeller Cor Kuyvenhoven

“Whilst UK has protected many inshore areas from damaging bottom trawling and dredging, there are no bans on any trawling or netting in the Dogger Bank, Farnes East, Coquet to St Mary’s and Harbour Porpoise MPAs in the the North Sea. Working together, we can show the biodiversity and life in these remote places.” Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MPA specialist, Marine Conservation Society.

Octopus Doggersbank Udo van Dongen

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