Unclogging Ghost Nets in Myanmar

Photo: Magnus Larsson.
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Awei Pila in Mergui Archipelago is a subsidiary tourism project of Yoma Strategic Holdings that consists of many resorts located in both well-known and lesser-known spots throughout Myanmar.

It recently was the host of a “clean-up” campaign to clear ALDFG (abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear), most of which have become part of the environment by being tangled or discarded. Also known as “ghost nets,” the gear are known to be hazardous to marine life–-ultimately killing fish and others as well as suffocating the corals.

Photo: Magnus Larsson.

A team of nine divers, and five support crew from different parts of the world: Brazil, Sweden, Lithuania and Romania to name a few. The group has managed, in a mere four days (from May 8 to 11), to recover over 300kgs of ALDFG using only scissors. The archipelago consists of over 800 islands and atolls, all under threat by these “ghost nets.”

Marcelo Guimarães, a marine biologist working for Awei Pila resort, also demonstrated that “In 2009, the United Nations estimated that 640,000 tonnes of ghost gear were littering the world’s oceans,” and with the nets, most of which are made with Nylon or other similar materials, will take over 600 years to biodegrade.

Photo: Magnus Larsson.

The founder of Ocean Quest Global, a Southeast-Asian organization dedicated to saving coral reefs, Anuar Abdullah, expressed his thoughts in the group’s mission statement: “The importance of healthy coral reefs to their surrounding communities cannot be understated.” “They not only provide them with food and revenue through fisheries and tourism, but also stave off coastal erosion, thereby safeguarding land property from damage and reducing the risk of population displacement. Coral reefs are important and unique ecosystems that are self-sustaining and provide vital support for marine life,” he continued.

Photo: Magnus Larsson.

The resort also aims to stay active and give its full support to the clearance campaign and the Myanmar Ocean Project. As a member of Memories Group and partner of Burma Boating, the general manager of Awei Pila — Steffen Kroehl said that they aim to create minimum impact on a pristine environment throughout Mergui Archipelago. With over 1000kg of “ghost” gear recovered, stay tuned by checking their website www.myanmarocean.org.

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