Divers search for lost cargo from MSC Zoe

A team of thirty divers has started with a major clean-up operation in the North Sea above the Wadden Islands. They want to clean up rubbish that came from the containers that were thrown overboard from the MSC Zoe at the beginning of 2019.

They will be cleaning up near 18 shipwrecks and will also remove other waste, such as lost fishing nets and fishing lead. The operation is organised by “Duik de Noordzee schoon” (Dive the North Sea clean) and will last 13 days.

On the night of 1 to 2 January 2019, the container ship MSC Zoe lost 342 containers in the North Sea. A lot of rubbish has already been cleaned up, but an estimated 800,000 kilos of cargo is still missing. If this waste is not removed, it will eventually disintegrate and disappear into the environment.

The waste on the seabed often accumulates near shipwrecks because they protrude above the sandy bottom. The wrecks often act as nurseries and shelters for many animals. It is estimated that more than 500 different species live there.

The waste is difficult to salvage because it is stuck or has partly disappeared under the sand. In addition, many wrecks have been designated as historical heritage, so caution is required when cleaning up. The divers therefore remove the waste carefully by hand in order to disrupt the biotope as little as possible and not to damage the wrecks further.

Source: ANP

Picture: One of the containers the MSC Zoe lost (by the Dutch Coast Guard).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.