Trawlers are destroying historic wrecks, say explorers

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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.

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.

The site of HMS Victory shows nets and cables snagged around cannon and ballast blocks. Three bronze cannon were displaced. One, a 42-pounder weighing 4 tonnes, was dragged 55 metres and flipped upside down. Two other cannon recovered by the company last year show fresh scratches from trawls and damage caused by friction from nets or cables.

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