Divers remove fishing nets covering protected coral reefs in Thailand

Diver swims past abandoned fishing nets covering a coral reef in a protected area of Ko Losin
A diver swim past an abandoned fishing nets covering a coral reef, Thailand, June 19, 2021. Picture: Reuters/Jorge Silva

Forty divers have removed abandoned fishing nets covering coral reefs in a protected area in the Gulf of Thailand. The divers carried out six trips over the weekend to complete the operation.

The divers tied plastic bags filled with air to the nets to get them to float to the surface, carefully cutting the parts caught in the coral.

“The hardest part of this operation was to remove the fishing net from the staghorn corals because the reef was full of branches and fragile,” Chanchot Piriyasatit, a divemaster volunteer, told Reuters.

Diver volunteer SOS Group said the nets had been in the area around Koh Losin, about 72 km (45 miles) off the coast of Thailand’s southern Pattani province, for about a month and a half.

After the nets were removed on Sunday – from depths ranging from 13 m to 26 m – about 500 sq m of bleached reef was discovered. The reef is expected to recover in two to three months.

“Ghost nets are a big problem in Thailand,” said a diver with SOS Group, Wannapa Thammasangwan. Ghost nets are fishing nets lost or dumped in the sea.

According to the United Nations, about 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost or thrown in the ocean globally every year, killing and injuring sea life.

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