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By Brad Rantayy
MIRI, April 19: Sea diving team Borneo Ghost Nets Hunter organised Ops Nemo City 1 on April 17 to clear ghost nets from coral reefs here as well as assess the impact of the debris.
According to a press statement, the operation lasted two hours with six divers lead by team founder Iqbal Abdollah. Amongst others, they measured the impact of the trawling nets on the coral reefs and were able to remove 84 kilogrammes of nets or 50 metres of nets.
Fishing nets and other gear that are lost at sea are hazardous to the ocean and its marine ecosystem.
Ghost nets are a threat to coral reefs as they can kill coral reefs that has been covered by algae due to its entanglement on shallow reefs in waters less than eight metres deep.
At this depth, unwelcomed algae can proliferate and block sunlight needed by coral reefs to perform photosynthesis, and thus end up killing the coral reefs.
“We had to do two dives to measure and remove the nets covering more than 3,000 square metres of beautiful coral reefs made of lots of sea anemone, hard and soft corals and sponges; thus, the area called Nemo City. Nemo (from the movie ‘Finding Nemo’) or clownfish use sea anemones to protect themselves from predators by (seeking refuge among) the stinging tentacles of the anemone,” said Iqbal who is also the founder of Future Ocean Borneo.
Approximately another 200 metres of nets are still underwater and could still harm marine life and kill the coral reefs, he added.
Another mission dubbed Ops Nemo City 2 will be held on May 5 this year. It is organised by the Northern Sarawak Journalists Association (NSJA) and Miri Fire and Rescue Department, assisted by the Borneo Ghost Nets Hunter team with their vast technical experience and logistics by Co.Co. Dive Miri.
“We encourage more corporate sector players to join hands with us and volunteer for the noble cause of saving our beautiful coral reefs from the damage done by ghost nets. We will provide value-for-money dive packages to any diver wanting to do this eco-diving experience.” said Co.Co. Dive Miri manager Jimmy Yong.
Future Ocean Borneo is a not-for-profit social enterprise, a local Borneo initiative to protect and conserve the marine environment all over Borneo. It was established in Miri.
The Borneo Ghost Nets Hunter is a special team comprising professional scuba divers with the level of Divemaster and Dive Instructor, and is under the management of Future Ocean Borneo.
Future Ocean Borneo and Borneo Ghost Nets Hunter are looking to cooperate with like-minded organisations to join or fund missions like what Co.Co. Dive has been doing.
Ghost net hunting and removal itself is an eco-diving based tourism activity with a meaningful dive package that directly protects coral reefs and at the same time, fosters fun.
“We request for support in term of funding and assistance from Sarawak tourism (industry) especially from the Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, YB Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who is a scuba diver himself,” Iqbal said.
He also urged more divers to join the upcoming operation which carries a small fee to reduce the cost to support this mission.
Those interested may contact Yong (+60128712281).
More missions will be organised soon as more sites with ghost nets have been identified. — DayakDaily