LABUAN: Labuan waters have not been spared from ghost nets - fishing nets lost or abandoned at sea.
Labuan Fisheries director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili said these nets harm the marine ecosystem because fish, turtles, dolphins, porpoises, sharks, seals and even birds could get entangled in them.
"Since hundreds of animals can be caught in a single net, you can see just how monumental this threat is. We are collaborating with the local fishermen, Labuan Divers’ Club, Fire and Rescue Department and volunteers to remove as many of these nets as possible,” he told Bernama on Tuesday (March 21).
An operation conducted at Rusukan Kecil and Rusukan Besar on March 19 and 20 resulted in the hauling up of 36kg of nylon nets from the seabed, he said.
"The nets are believed to have been abandoned by traditional fishermen,” he added.
Faizal Ibrahim said a similar operation would be carried out before the end of the year in an effort to ensure that Labuan waters were free from ghost nets.
"Exorcising ghost nets from our waters requires full commitment, cooperation and innovation from all parties, especially the fishermen,” he said.
He said ghost nets are a major contributor to the ocean plastics crisis as most modern nets are made of nylon or other plastic compounds that could last for centuries.
"Ghost nets harm coral reefs, too, breaking corals, exposing them to disease, and even blocking the reefs from much-needed sunlight,” he said.
Faizal Ibrahim advised fishermen, both traditional and modern, against abandoning fishing gear at sea.- Bernama