Trawlers are destroying historic wrecks, say explorers

By Frank Pope - Times Online


The wreck of HMS Victory, a British warship sunk in the English Channel in 1744, is being destroyed by fishing trawlers, according to the American treasure hunters who discovered the site last year.

“We were shocked and surprised by the degree of damage we found in the Channel,” said Greg Stemm, chief executive of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

“When we got into this business, like everyone else we thought that beyond 50 or 60 metres, below the reach of divers, we’d find pristine shipwrecks.

We thought we’d be finding rainforest, but instead found an industrial site criss-crossed by bulldozers and trucks.”

Odyssey — the world’s only publicly-listed shipwreck exploration company — surveyed 4,725 sq miles (12,300 sq km) of the western Channel during its search for high-value shipwrecks.

It discovered 267 wrecks, of which 112, or 41 per cent, show evidence of damage from a type of fishing known as bottom trawling.


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odyssey marine exploration HMS Victory Channel Islands British warship Maritime Heritage Foundation destroyed fishing nets