Downbelow dive guides recently found an illegal fishing net, or ghost net, and promptly executed 2 planned dives to remove it from the coral reefs and stop its’ environmentally harmful effects.
Within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, fishing is of course illegal within the parameters of the protected area. The local fishing community are permitted to only use line and hook methods, however occasionally they will try their chances with nets. Also, on occasion large nets wash into the calmer waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman park. This creates a domino effect of environmental damage.
The net was an estimated 150m in length and 5m wide, covering a very shallow part of one of our Downbelow island teams’ favourite reefs for snorkeling. This reef is so incredibly productive with healthy corals that blacktip reef sharks are commonly spotted cruising along near the shoreline to feed.
Thankfully, we did not find any of these beautiful sharks in the net, but there were plenty of marine animals caught. Lobsters and crabs usually fall prey to entanglement in a net, but we do free any that we find alive. Important grazers of the reef ecosystem get stuck in the holes of the net, such as parrotfish and rabbitfish. Their gills are damaged as a result so their chances of survival are slim; other fish eat the dead ones in the net and get caught themselves and the cycle repeats.
Downbelow are the first dive centre in Malaysia to be awarded the PADI Green Star Award and we uphold our commitment and passion to the conservation of the marine environment. We thank everyone who participated in the net removal and anyone who supports marine conservation.