The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is partnering with local organizations and dive centers in a project called Net Free Seas which aims to raise awareness about “ghost nets,” fishing nets discarded in the ocean that are hazards to fauna and flora.
Salisa Traipipitsiriwat, the Coordinator of the Net Free Seas Project, said that this activity is to raise awareness among scuba divers on ghost nets and encourage divers to participate in cleaning up the ocean and helping the environment
640,000 tons of discarded nets are left in the ocean every year, according to the EJF, and become hazards for wildlife and can result in habitat loss.
“Net Free Seas project is not only about raising awareness to divers, but also to fishing villages throughout Thailand,” Salisa told Thai Enquirer.
The project has partnered with fishing villages throughout the country to also help raise awareness and educate locals in how these unused nets can be recycled into other items and products, along with finding the balance between local, sustainable ways of fishing and environmental conservation.
“Both have to go together,” Salisa explained.
If the program proves to be successful, the EJF plans to introduce the project to other countries and across Thailand.
The latest cleanup dive in Rayong was supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Green Fins initiative implemented in partnership with The Reef-World Foundation. Green Fins aims to protect and conserve coral reefs by promoting environmentally friendly guidelines for sustainable diving and snorkeling practices.
The approach is proven and replicable, has been adopted by 11 countries and nearly 600 individual marine tourism companies since its inception in 2004. Learn more about Green Fins’ environmentally friendly guidelines that promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling industry and opportunities for divers, dive guides, and centres here.
In the face of disruptions to marine tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Green Fins initiative seeks to empower diving and snorkeling businesses to put in place better environmental measures that will help the industry to build back better and come out of this crisis stronger.
UNEP and its Regional Seas programs continue to work with Governments, businesses and communities in Thailand and the region to reduce and prevent marine litter from unsustainable activities on land and at sea, through the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter.