The Ghost Net Removal Project began in 2004 during the inception of Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures in Sabah Malaysia, Borneo. Illegally discarded fishing nets pose a serious threat to the marine environment, bringing with it a perilous and destructive cycle if not removed from the ocean. Informally named ‘ghost net’, it continually fishes even after discarded. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, where our PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centres are based, is affected by illegal fishing nets. The project is carried out in this park, guided by Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann.
Tangible Positive Social Outcomes
A ghost net if not removed is capable of destroying a whole marine ecosystem, beginning from the smallest life to the largest. Whether the net is tangled on a reef or drifting in the ocean, it traps marine life which in turn will trap marine predators that try to eat the marine life, creating an endless and devastating cycle.
An example of a tangible positive social outcome from the Ghost Net Removal project is it encourages preservation, growth and development of the marine natural resources in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Removals of the ghost net allows reefs and marine life to flourish. With this, the local community will have a healthy marine environment that they can appreciate, protect and preserve.
Removals of the ghost net allows reefs and marine life to flourish.
In continuation to this, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park has steadily received an increasing number of visitors over the years from both local and international people alike. The importance of this is that it will highly benefit the local community of the park and its surrounding areas. Tourism is massive in Sabah Malaysia, Borneo. Local people who are in the working force of the tourism industry benefit from this growth as revenue will also increase; local economies will improve as well. More business and career opportunities in regards to the park has arise as a result from the development of tourism and this it is important that the reefs are free from ghost nets.
For the local community, fishing is a cultural identity. Both commercial and subsistence fishermen rely on marine life in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to make a living. A thriving marine ecosystem produces a significant amount of fish that the locals can catch and gain profit from in a sustainable way. They are able to continue fishing without negatively affecting the park as long as ghost nets are removed and not causing harm to marine life.
There are not many places in the world that offer a stunning tropical marine paradise right at the doorstep of a bustling city full of modern facilities – and Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is such a place. The marine environment needs to be protected so everyone can experience its beauty. With the Ghost Net Removal Project, we aim to ensure that local and international visitors alike are able to witness thriving reefs of the park by participating activities such as island hopping, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more.
It is also crucial that there is enough source of food for the local community who depend on the marine life in the park and that local fishermen have access to a significant amount of fish for them to sell. Their welfare is one of the reasons the project began. It is part of the Ghost Net Removal Project’s mission to prevent issues such as starvation, unemployment, and crime relating to the decline of fish in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Giving the local fishermen a fair chance in fishing sustainably is also important.
Community Outreach and Engagement
The primary way the Ghost Net Removal Project reaches people and encourages them to engage in protecting reefs and the ocean from illegal fishing nets is by providing education, spreading awareness and leading by example to the local community.
Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann is a passionate advocate of marine conservation. With his extensive knowledge in it, he shares valuable information about the dangers of ghost nets, teaches specialised skills to remove it without harming reefs and lists ways on how to prevent and combat this global issue to the community as well as local guests.
Information inspires action. People who call Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park as part of their home has become more and more aware of the need to protect it over the years and wishes to get involved and remove ghost nets as well. Many have participated in the Ghost Net Removal Project with the Downbelow team headed by Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann numerous times over the years and have developed into exemplary responsible scuba divers, an important role every recreational and professional diver need to be. These include guests, PADI Go Pro candidates, local and international universities, adventure groups and corporate groups. The divers then have detailed facts enough to spread awareness to more people about ghost nets which will give a positive impact on the community.
Information inpires action.
A net removal is conducted by Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures anytime a ghost net is spotted in the reef or drifting in the sea at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Besides hindering the ghost net from causing further destruction, it is also to encourage the people withing the park to be proactive in taking action and support marine conservation activities especially on illegal fishing nets. By using social media and other digital platforms, we communicate with the local community and provide visuals as well as details of the ongoing Ghost Net Removal Project as part of of an effort to engage them in marine conservation activities.
Staff and Management Engagement
Leading by example is how Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann engages the staff to be the key force in the Ghost Net Removal Project. As with reaching and engaging with the local community, Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director shares his passion in marine conservation with the team and inspires them to be committed to battling ghost nets. Using his extensive knowledge, Richard conveys valuable information about the dangers of ghost nets, teaches specialised skills to remove it without harming the reefs and list ways on how to prevent and combat this global issue to the team.
Being a hands-on Managing Director, Richard Swann personally trains and coaches our team of local PADI Dive Instructors to remove ghost nets in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. He instills the same determination towards removing ghost nets that he has to our PADI Dive Instructors and equips them with technical skills and knowledge that are fundamental to carry out tasks in the Ghost Net Removal Project. And when a ghost net is found in the park, guided by Richard they will carry out the meticulous and often dangerous duty of removing the net. Their pivotal role in the project shapes them into responsible professional divers with marine conservation in mind during and even outside of working hours.
Being a hands-on Managing Director, Richard Swann personally trains and coaches our team of local PADI Dive Instructors to remove ghost nets in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Each division in Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures have their own role in the Ghost Net Removal Project. Whether it is to communicate with our audience about the project’s progress, ensuring the safety measures during net removals, operations and transportation of net removals, accounts and administration of net removals, equipment – the staff and management all work together to ensure the project goes well and they themselves have a solid understanding and sense of teamwork in the project.
The management establishes and implements company values, policies, and rules that stems from the importance of the Ghost Net Removal Project. We foster and reward good responsible habits towards the marine environment and encourage staff to spread the awareness in addition to getting involved in marine conservation activities. Overall, the management motivates the staff to be purposeful in marine conservation so that it becomes second nature to them.
Impacts of Ghost Net Removal Project
A prosperous marine environment offers tremendous contributions to humanity, the economy and development. A single ghost net that is removed today will give a positive impact to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine park for many years to come. The impacts are that natural resources in the park are preserved, the local community will be able to have their source of food and income, employment rate will increase, the tourism industry will continue to grow and more people will be aware of marine conservation matters and get involved.
Committed to Marine Conservation
On this planet, there is only one ocean and Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures will persevere in protecting it. We will remain passionate and committed to marine conservation and continue to remove ghost nets for as long as we can. This self-funded project operates only on our sole wish for a clean and healthy ocean. We hope to keep fostering the responsible behaviour shown by our team, the local community and our guests to rid perilous and destructive ghost nets as well as spread awareness on its dangers and how people can take action.