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Fishing nets removed to save turtle nesting sites.

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Muscat: The Environmental Society of Oman (ESO) has removed 425 tonnes of abandoned fishing nets from the Island of Masirah since 2017. Business executives and government bodies have praised the cleaning efforts and said that these nets can cause serious harm to the environment and marine life. According to a statement by the ESO: "425 tonnes of abandoned fishing nets have been removed from a 76km stretch of sea turtle nesting beaches on Masirah Island over the last three years. The most recent efforts took place in January and February, ahead of the Loggerhead sea turtle nesting season. There have been three such campaigns, which target fishing nets that interfere with turtle hatching nests in Masirah, by the society since 2017, according to the society. The nets, which some fishermen neglect to remove, are often found on the beach, where they affect turtles and marine life, as well as sending an odour that can discourage visitors. However, if these same nets are left in the sea or swept in by waves then they can prove catastrophic.

Dr Hussain Al Muscati, Director of Development and Management of Fishing Resources at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, told Times of Oman: "These are mostly mistakes made by individuals. A fisherman can place a net in the ocean, and then it will be cut by something swimming through, such as a boat. The mistake comes after when the fisherman doesn't feel like he needs to go and extract the net, or even let any service know what happened. If these nets are then swept out to sea, then they can turn into mass graveyards for fish, and the act itself is against the law." The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries supported the Environment Society of Oman with this project, which was also conducted with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, as well as the Environmental Services Holding Company (Beah). "We had meetings spurred from studies that showed that turtle numbers were dwindling. The society then suggested placing bins to alert people as to where these nets ought to be thrown and we, in turn, suggested a large sign to alert people that the bin is there." Vijay Handa, Cluster General Manager at the Ras Al Jinz Reserve and Masirah Resort, praised the work done by the society to protect marine life and its effects on tourism. "The removal of these nets is good since it protects the environment and helps keep Oman beautiful. "People coming to the area to help clean up or because the area has become cleaner will definitely be good for business." Biggest threats According to the society: " Improper disposal of nets is one of the biggest threats to the marine environment locally and globally, as they may endanger a diverse range of species that may be trapped in them, pose potential threats to the health and structure of habitats, and encourage more littering and improper fishing gear disposal."

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jun 1, 2019
Words:507
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