Local dive centre joins Miri underwater cleanup

|     Achong Tanjong     |

A GROUP of volunteers from CRK Elite Diving from Brunei, Nature Society (MNS) Miri branch and Co.Co.Dive Miri last Friday took part in an underwater clean-up at Seafan Garden, one of Miri’s best dive sites.

The group comprised four divers from Co.Co.Dive led by manager Jimmy Yong, two divers from CRK Elite Diving headed by its instructor Roger Sim, Iqbal Abdollah – the chairman of MNS Miri branch – and a local scuba instructor Roy Jok Ngau.

CRK Elite Diving Brunei is a newly established scuba diving centre operating at Serasa Muara, while MNS Miri is an active non-profit that focusses on marine protection and conservation in the northern region of Sarawak.

The joint clean-up was carried out in partnership with a number of NGOs and private entities from Miri and Brunei, according to a statement by Iqbal Abdollah in the Borneo Post.

“The effort is part of programmes organised in connection with Miri’s International Coastal Clean-up Day 2018, 55th Malaysia Day celebrations, and International Years of the Reef 2018. MNS Miri branch previously carried out similar exercises in Brunei with CRK Elite Diving, most recently on July 15 this year,” he said.

“During the underwater clean-up effort, our volunteers managed to retrieve ghost fishing nets at Seafan Garden.”

He added that the nets were quite new and were scattered across more than 3,000 square metres of beautiful coral reef, affecting specimens such as Gorgonian sea fans, sea whips as well as other soft and hard corals.

“The clean-up effort resulted in a haul of about 50kg of fishing nets totalling 100 metres in length discarded by fishing trawlers which might have been fishing illegally less than five nautical miles from shore,” Iqbal said.

“More nets were still seen underwater and we were unable to retrieve them due to bad visibility.”

“Because of this, I would like to urge more diving centres and divers to volunteer to help retrieve ghost fishing nets to prevent further harm to the corals,” he added.

In their July 15 clean-up in Brunei this year, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri and CRK Elite Diving Brunei volunteers collected 45kg of waste.

This coastal spring cleaning effort included an underwater clean-up at Pelong Rocks and a beach clean-up at Pelumpong Spit in Muara. The activity was part of several programmes held in conjunction with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s 72nd birthday celebration.

“This joint clean-up was carried out in the hope that Bruneians will be made aware of the importance of keeping our seas and beaches pollution-free,” said Iqbal, who also happens to be a certified dive master.

The underwater clean-up in Brunei yielded a haul of around five kg of discarded fishing nets, while the beach clean-up yielded 40kg of waste comprising plastic water bottles, plastic and Styrofoam containers as well as polystyrene beads.

“We hope that this small project will continue to be carried out annually by the private sector and government cooperation for the betterment of the environment in Brunei, both on land and in its waters,” Iqbal added.