Oman Sail proudly teamed up with sister company SeaOman, official logistics provider DB Schenker Oman, environmental partner Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and the Environment Authority for an underwater clean-up to mark the United Nations (UN) World Oceans Day – June 8.
In line with the UNs’ theme of ‘Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean’, stakeholders came together to remove abandoned fishing nets entangled in the coral of the protected Daymaniyat Islands. SeaOman provided powerboats, dive equipment, divers and cutting tools to support the volunteers and the Environment Authority waived the cost of the visit permits and assisted with the removal of the nets.
It took nine divers and seven snorkelers, besides surface support volunteers, over two hours to safely remove the nets. During the underwater clean-up, the team were able to release fish that had been caught in the nets, 10m deep. The critically endangered Hawksbill turtles watched as the divers patiently and carefully cut the fishing nets entangled in the coral. It was a relief for all that the disregarded nets, that weighed approximately 200kg, was removed from the seabed.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have reported that on average between 500,000 and one million tonnes of fishing equipment are abandoned in the ocean each year. In 2018, Earth.Org shared that up to 650,000 marine animals are killed by abandoned nets every year, necessitating regular underwater clean-ups.
Dr Khamis al Jabri, Oman Sail CEO, said, “Omanis have a unique bond with the water, it is our duty to preserve it for generations to come and the thousands of species of marine life living in the sea and onshore. In partnership with our stakeholders, we are keen to annually take great strides in conservation, by reducing our impact on the environment in every aspect of operations on this day and every day.”
Richard van Schie, managing director from DB Schenker Oman, said, “DB Schenker shares Oman Sail’s vision for sustainability in Oman and is pioneering clean logistics in the industry as it’s committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2040. To reach this ambitious goal, we have invested in renewable energies to support customers with their transport needs while meeting environmental targets. Being able to support World Oceans Day ties into our ongoing efforts to confront climate change by clearing the seas of man-made waste, taking action on behalf of the ocean and protecting the wildlife and the communities that depend on it.”
Suaad al Harthi, executive director, ESO, said, “Our ocean covers 70% of the world’s surface, accounts for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity and produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen. We are hugely dependent on it for our own health and yet we continue to take more from the ocean than can be replenished. It is our shared duty to protect it. Abandoned fishing gear is the most significant source of entanglements in all documented records regarding sea turtles and other marine animals. These entanglements result in injury and often death. We continue to advocate for all fishing communities to ensure that fishing nets are disposed of appropriately. We also call on the public to do their part – dispose of your litter correctly and limit your consumption of single use plastics to help reduce the amount of plastics entering the ocean each year.”