Press release

MMO and BSAC to review rules for lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear removal

MMO and BSAC are working together to review guidance on removing lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear from the seabed.


The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is pleased to announce that it will be working with the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) on behalf of UK recreational divers to further review and clarify the guidance and licence requirements associated with the removal of lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear from the sea bed.

On 17 August the MMO provided an update to the existing rules for recreational divers that are on the BSAC website and this update is also available on the MMO website. In response to public feedback the MMO also published a blog post which provided additional explanation on the latest update to the rules.

In both news releases the MMO set out its intention to work with stakeholders to further review the licensing requirements for recreational divers, specifically around the removal of marine litter and fishing equipment, in order to make the licensing process as clear and simple as possible. This engagement has now started and initial discussions between the MMO and BSAC have taken place.

Commenting on the matter Trudi Wakelin, MMO Director of Marine Licensing, said:

We appreciate the work of the diving community and other stakeholders in their efforts to remove lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear from the sea bed. These people volunteer their time and expertise because they share our passion to protect our seas.

We want to support these activities where possible, but need to ensure that they are carried out in a way that minimises the risk of any unintentional damage to the marine environment. This is why we are delighted to announce that we have already started discussions with BSAC as the UK’s leading dive club and the sport’s National Governing Body.

The initial discussions have been extremely useful and we look forward to building on this, to find a route that is beneficial to all parties going forward.

Endorsing the collaborative approach Maria Harwood, BSAC Vice Chair, said:

The diving community sees at first hand the damage that marine litter and abandoned fishing gear can cause to the marine environment, and we want to encourage recreational divers to help to clean our seas, without financial penalties.

We welcome the MMO’s willingness to engage and to refine this process, and look forward to some constructive discussions.

Published 30 August 2017