The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park bans all commercial net fishing. This of course doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Unfortunetly when the fisherman deploy their nets in the vicinity of a reef system to catch the associated fish the net all too often gets caught on the reef and they have to cut the net. As I am sure you can all imagine, this net falls onto the reef, smothering it, and continuing to do what it was designed to do - catch fish.Thankfully the number of illegal fisherman in the park is reducing. On a Wreck Dive for one of my Instructor Specialities we stumbled across a net which was upright and still catching fish. Richard (PADI Course Director) decided to take action and we returned to remove the net soon after.
Richard organized a net removal training session. Ultimately the goal of the day was to remove the net, but he was also imparting his experience and advice to the removal team to enable any of us to conduct our own in the future. The team consisted of myself and another Intern, Shevy, plus some of Downbelows staff: Bob, Wellson and Jess. James (base leader) also came along to film the event.....keep your eyes peeled!
We headed out and managed to remove the net in a single 65 minute dive. We worked in 2 buddy teams, with myself and Shevy starting at one end and Bob and Jess at the other. I felt a little guilty at the start as to remove the net as I thought I was causing some coral damage.It soon became apparent though that the coral stuck in the net were dead, and if not they well on the way. By removing the coral we could from the net at least we left it in their habitat and by 'planting' some of the bigger pieces we were doing what we could.
Luckily no more marine life had been killed in the net since we first saw it and thankfully we arrived in time for Richard to free a very grateful entangled Stonefish.
It is hard work to remove an entangled fishing net and I was hugely frustrated! Still, at the end of the dive we managed to bring the net onto the boat and dispose of it correctly. I am looking forward to getting stuck into a much bigger net in the coming days! Now, where's my knife..........
Many thanks to Downbelow for photo and video documenting the event!