How ghost nets haunt marine life


Coral reefs are now becoming increasingly  vulnerable as the impacts of human activities and the climate crisis worsen. It is important for us to maintain our coral reefs in healthy condition as it provides so much to us and to the marine environment.

Ghost nets are an example of anthropogenic activities that cause harm to coral reefs and other marine organisms. A ghost net is a fishing net used by vessels that has been discarded or lost to the ocean. Once a fishing net has been separated from the vessel, it continues to drift with the ocean currents. This can cause animals such as fish, turtles and seals to become entangled. In shallower areas near the shore, ghost nets can be caught on reefs. They may either continue to float, dragging and destroying the corals, or completely cover the corals, inhibiting their growth by blocking the sunlight from reaching them.

Ghostnet removal day

Along with the Perhentian Marine Research Station (PMRS) crew and members of Anak Pulau, we have been removing these ghost nets from the waters of the Perhentian archipelago, which are rich in marine life. Once a week, we send divers out to search for ghost nets. 

As soon as we receive a report about the location and general size of the nets, we dispatch our team to remove them. Once we have arrived at the reported location, we put on our scuba diving gears and get into the water. Depending on the type of net, we use equipment to untangle it from the corals. We hope to minimize the impacts of our removal activities on the corals and marine animals.

Once the nets have been cut and detached from the corals, they are tied to lift bags to allow them to float and no longer drag on the corals. The nets are then lifted to the surface of the waters towards the boat or shore. Once the nets have been placed on the boat, they are then relocated to be either repurposed or discarded appropriately.

These photos were taken during one of our successful ghost net removal activities back in August 2022. Four different nets were spotted clumping on a reef on one of the Perhentian Islands. A total of nine ghost net dives were carried out between August and October, including responding to reports from our stakeholders.

Article tags

AnakPulauGeneration restorationGhosnetMarine ThreatsOceanPerhentian IslandPMRSRapid Response TeamRestoration Steward

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