Sixteen divers removed almost 100 kilogrammes of ghost nets at Pelong-Pelongan Island during a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris survey programme recently.
The citizen-science programme that empowers scuba divers to remove marine debris from the ocean and report data on the types, quantities and location of materials collected, was organised by local non-governmental organisation (NGO), Reef Check Brunei.
It was led by freelance dive instructor Doris Chin and Oceanic Quest Sdn Bhd.
Reef Check Brunei aims to strengthen coral reef conservation in the country.
The sultanate’s marine ecosystems have largely been unstudied and the reef check surveys that have been conducted are few and far apart.
Frequent surveys can lead to the discovery of new reefs that can become potential diving sites.
Diver Frederick Chong, who regularly participates in the Dive Againsts Debris survey programme, said, “Surveys can help identify new diving sites that can boost marine ecotourism in Brunei. Based on the past surveys, abandoned fishing nets, single-use plastics, fishing lines and hooks have always been a threat to our coral reefs, marine animals and scuba divers.”
Pelong-Pelongan Island is located within the Marine Protected Area in which fishermen are prohibited to fish in the area. Many ghost nets were spotted in the area and it is not possible for divers to remove it entirely in a single day operation.
Reef Check Brunei together with Oceanic Quest Sdn Bhd, Poni Divers and like-minded individuals will continue to conduct more Dive Against Debris surveys, collect underwater marine debris, and save marine ecosystem in Brunei.