Sabah, Borneo: A while ago, whilst resident PADI Course Director Richard was conducting a deep dive with our Divemaster interns in the TAR Park, he spied a discarded fishing net.
The location was noted and following a Net Removal Workshop Richard had hosted, Downbelow’s Assistant Base Leaders Bob & Wellson given the opportunity to manage the logistics for the net removal.
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They assembled a crack net removal team and included professional diving interns Paul, Joe and Shevvy in the action.
As none of the interns had been involved in a net removal before, Bob & Wellson were particular about the plan of action and safety, to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Arriving at the site of the net though, they discovered that what was thought to be one net was in fact 2 nets running parallel from around 9m down to 30m. It added an extra element of caution, as entanglement at these depths can be fatal.
Richard, with his wealth of net removal experience, lead the team who systematically and efficiently cut down and removed the net.
On his way up with the final load of illegal net, wouldn’t you know it, Richard spotted another one. They would come back later in the day for a second dive to remove the 3rd net laying on a sandy slope.
There wasn’t much coral damage for the net to do on the sandy slope, but peculiarly it managed to kill a number of Horse Shoe crabs. Richard couldn’t hide his dismay at these millions of years old creatures having to meet their end, for no reason, in a modern day fishing net.
They still managed to free a few survivors though, and made short work of removing the net.
In total the team removed an estimated 5,400 ft² of illegal fishing net that day. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
The Downbelow Net Removal Team chalks one up for the TAR Park and stands ready for when the next illegal net is spotted.
See this and other Project AWARE Photo Albums on our Conservation Page.
Downbelow Liberates the TAR Park from Illegal Net Tyranny