Sipadan island coral reefs damaged by 900m tangled fishing net, boat operator detained for questioning

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 24 — Authorities yesterday had to remove a 900-metre fishing net that was found near a famous diving spot in Sipadan island, damaging some of its coral reefs.

The net, which had drifted away from a fishing boat, was caught on the famed Barracuda Point dive site and extended toward Hanging Gardens, with some 18 fishes caught in it, including two sharks.

Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Jafry Arifin said that the net was sighted at about 6am yesterday by a Sabah Parks ranger and the dive marshal on duty when they saw the floating buoys of the net which had drifted.

“After calling in and reporting the matter, work began to remove the net with the help of several dive operators — Seahorse Scuba, Borneo Jungle and Dive Semporna.

“The mission took all day, to clear the net from Barracuda Point to North Point, but by night time, some 200m was left. Efforts continued this morning, involving some 25 divers from several operators until the net was completely removed,” he said.

A wooden fishing boat had also approached the marine park yesterday morning around 9.40am, without a permit to enter, and claimed responsibility for the net which had drifted with the currents into the park. The boat owner has been detained for questioning.

Jafry said he was upset that the incident took place and described it as irresponsible while calling strict for action to be taken against those involved.

“They need to bear the consequences of their recklessness, to serve as an example so that others will be more careful in the future,” he said.

The island of Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, which rises from the seabed. It is famous among dive enthusiasts for its huge school of barracudas, turtles, sharks, and teeming coral life.

Only 176 permits are given out to divers per day to limit the number of people visiting the park to preserve its environment.