A team of expert divers to survey the Northern part of Lampi Marine National Park to spot ghost nets
Istituto Oikos, Myanmar Ocean Project and five expert divers today are starting a ten-day strategic dive survey in Northern Lampi (Tanintharyi Region, Southern Myanmar) to locate potential ghost gear hotspots to efficiently plan future ocean cleanup expeditions.
Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG, also ghost gear) is a major threat for the health of Myanmar’s marine ecosystems. Earlier this year, Myanmar Ocean Project, supported by World Animal Association and National Geographic Society, in collaboration with Istituto Oikos and FFI (Flora & Fauna International) and after consultations with local communities organised a first research expedition during which over 140 kg of ghost nets were removed from Lampi Marine National Park alone. Myanmar Ocean Project carried out other expedition removing more than one ton of ghost gear across the Myeik Archipelago.
Ghost gear is any type of fishing gear left behind by fishing boats accidentally or intentionally. It’s one of the biggest threats to marine life worldwide, silently suffocating, starving and killing both nektonic and benthonic organisms. In addition, they contribute to macro and micro-plastic pollution in the ocean, affecting the whole ecosystem. Their removal is essential to protect marine life and the local communities that rely on the ocean for their survival.
“We need to take urgent action. The amount of ghost gear we discovered in Myanmar’s archipelago is shocking”, says Daw Thanda Ko Gyi, Founder and Director of Myanmar Ocean Project, who will be leading the expedition. The new mission is planned to cover an unexplored area of the park. “Scouting activities are essential. We want to have a clear picture of the scope of the problem to take action in the areas most affected. During this diving expedition, we will only remove the most harmful nets, to optimise our time and scout as many spots as possible”, she adds. Priority will be given to three types of nets: new nets, which are invisible underwater, large nets, which are the most dangerous for megafauna and nets covering healthy corals that still have the potential to recover. Further missions will be planned in the coming seasons to continue survey, removal and awareness activities.
The mission is organised within the framework of STAR Project, supported by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.