Team cut away 100m fishing net caught on wreck
A PLYMOUTH dive boat skipper has enabled a team of volunteer divers to clear a popular wreck of dangerous netting threatening divers and wildlife.
Doug Allen took his specialist dive boat Outcast 17 miles to the wreck of the 'Maine', where six expert scuba-divers from as far afield as London set to work to remove the nylon gill-net.
Doug, 67, didn't charge a penny for the charter, and even provided tanks of air and oxygen free of charge.
The divers cut away around 100 metres of lost net weighing around a hundredweight when dry.
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They also released marine creatures hopelessly trapped in the near-invisible meshes.
Doug said: "Fishermen have laid a net nearby and it has got embedded in the wreck and become a nuisance to divers.
"I felt it better to take it off in case a diver got entangled in conditions of low visibility.
"A knife is no good - it would take ages to cut your way free, and you need a special tool."
Doug said creatures such as crabs cannot see the clear nylon nets, get enmeshed and suffer a slow death.
"The nylon never rots - it is there forever," he added.
Doug said the wreck, about a mile off the south Devon coast in 35 metres of water, is normally safe and a good wreck to dive on.
He stressed that he was not criticising the fishermen who laid the net.
"Everyone has to make a living, and it's not illegal," he said.
"If a net gets dragged into the wreck, it's a misfortune."
The 'Maine' was 375 foot, 3616-ton British cargo ship sunk by a U-boat in March, 1917.
Most of the crew were rescued by the Royal Navy.
The ship is still mostly intact, and she is one of the most popular dive venues along the South Devon coast.