Sat, Oct 05, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Volunteers remove 800kg of nets from Penghu coral reefs

Staff writer, with CNA

Scuba divers remove fishing nets from a coral reef off Penghu’s Dongi Island on Thursday.

Photo: CNA

A volunteer cleanup on Thursday to help protect coral reefs in Penghu County yielded more than 800kg of abandoned fishing nets, the Marine National Park Headquarters said yesterday.

Scuba divers last week reported that “ghost nets,” or abandoned nets, covered coral reefs off the coast of Dongi Island (東吉嶼), the park headquarters said.

However, it could not take action at the time due to the strong winds and choppy seas caused by Typhoon Mitag, park official Hsu Shao-liang (徐韶良) said.

With calm weather on Thursday, the headquarters assembled 10 marine conservation volunteers, who traveled to the reefs in two boats to remove the nets, Hsu said.

It took five hours to remove hundreds of meters of nets, he said.

The reefs of branching corals, known as lavender forests because of their striking color, were undamaged, Hsu said.

Nets can be hazardous to coral reef ecosystems, as they can block sunlight, hampering coral photosynthesis, he said.

The South Penghu Marine National Park, designated a protected area in 2014, encompassing 13 cays and islets in southern Penghu.

Since 2014, bottom-set gillnetting, which has the potential to indiscriminately destroy marine life over a long period, has been banned inside the national park, but local fishermen are still allowed to use drift nets.

Following the partial restriction on fishing in the area, eco-tourism activities such as guided snorkeling and scuba diving have provided new sources of income for residents.

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