Muscat – In line with the United Nations World Oceans Day theme of ‘Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean’, several stakeholders came together to remove abandoned fishing nets entangled in the corals of the Daymaniyat Islands.
Oman Sail teamed up with sister company SeaOman, official logistics provider DB Schenker Oman (formally known as Schenker Khimji’s), environmental partner Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and the Environment Authority to mark the day, which is celebrated on June 8.
SeaOman provided powerboats, dive equipment, divers and cutting tools to support the volunteers, while Environment Authority waived the cost of the visit permits and assisted with the removal of the nets.
It took nine divers, seven snorkellers and surface support volunteers over two hours to safely remove the nets. In the process, the team was able to release fish that had been caught in the nets. The critically endangered Hawksbill turtles watched as the divers patiently and carefully cut the fishing nets entangled in the coral. ‘It was a relief for all that the disregarded nets, that weighed approximately 200kg, were removed from the seabed,’ stated a press release.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has reported that on average between 500,000 and 1mn tonnes of fishing equipment are abandoned in the ocean each year. In 2018, Earth.Org revealed that up to 650,000 marine animals are killed by abandoned nets every year.
Dr Khamis al Jabri, CEO of Oman Sail, said, “Omanis have a unique bond with the ocean. It is our duty to preserve it for generations to come and the thousands of species of marine life living in the sea and onshore. In partnership with our stakeholders, we are keen to take great strides in conservation, by reducing our impact on the environment in every aspect of operations on this day and every day.”
On the occasion, Suaad al Harthi, executive director of ESO, said that oceans cover 70 per cent of the world’s surface, account for 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity and produce at least 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen. “We are hugely dependent on it for our own health and yet we continue to take more from the ocean than can be replenished. It is our shared duty to protect it.
“Abandoned fishing gear is the most significant source of entanglements in all documented records regarding sea turtles and other marine animals. These entanglements result in injury and often death. We continue to advocate for all fishing communities to ensure that fishing nets are disposed of appropriately. We also call on the public to do their part – dispose of your litter correctly and limit your consumption of single use plastics to help reduce the amount of plastics entering the ocean each year.”
Richard van Schie, managing director of DB Schenker Oman, said, “Being able to support World Oceans Day ties into our ongoing efforts to confront climate change by clearing the seas of man-made waste, taking action on behalf of the ocean and protecting the wildlife and the communities that depend on it.”
Oman Vision 2040 emphasises the need to protect coral and marine creatures as part of the environmental pillar focusing on preserving the nation’s beauty for future generations. Oman Sail encourages everyone to take the UN #CleanSeas pledge to reduce or eliminate single use plastic in everyday life.