MRF Staff and Directors are happy to support the Kota Kinabalu Dive Rangers with underwater cleanup events of discarded and illegal fishing gear within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. This project collects illegal and abandoned fishing gears left by fishers who fish within the Park boundaries, and whose nets get caught on the Park’s coral reefs. These nets are often referred to as ‘ghost nets’ as they continue to fish indiscriminately even though they have been discarded. We often find (and release) live fish from the nets, and have found endangered sea turtles and all kinds of other creatures fall prey to the nets. MRF provides personnel and boat time as and how needed by the Dive Rangers as a way of showing our commitment to improving marine ecosystems in Sabah.
From September 2021 to December 2021 MRF has been fortunate to receive funding from the Korea Green Foundation and their supporter Com2us Corporation to implement bi-monthly cleanup events around the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, off Kota Kinabalu. This project used volunteer divers on a two-weekly basis to conduct clean-up dives to remove ‘ghost nets’, Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks, solid waste plastics and other debris from the coral reefs around the Park. Ghost nets is a term used for discarded fishing equipment that can continue to ‘fish’ for many years after being discarded, killing fish and invertebrates and endangered sea turtles indiscriminately. In collaboration with Sabah Parks and Kota Kinabalu Dive Rangers, MRF coordinated the personnel, dive tanks and boat time on a two-weekly basis over 8 trips to demonstrate our commitment to improving marine ecosystems in Sabah.
During these dives we collected a total of 220 meters of discarded fishing nets, 36 large bin bags of marine debris (mostly consist of plastics) and 768 Crown of Thorns within Sabah’s Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
Importantly, we also built an incredible team and network of volunteer groups. In addition to the MRF team, Kota Kinabalu Dive Rangers, and the Sabah Park’s SParks Dive Team, we also hosted representatives of various NGOs and organisations including Reef Check Malaysia, Borneo Dream Travel and Tours, Sutera Harbour Resort, Malaysia Ocean Youth Ambassadors (MOYA), Seed of Hope, Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Dive2C diving club, and Kinabalu International School.
In addition to this, we have also included small allowances to the unemployed dive rangers consisting of divemasters and instructors who have been out of work during this long COVID19 pandemic, as a way to help them put food on the table while also working to save the resources upon which their livelihoods depend.
We look forward to future support so that we can continue to build on these incredible successes.