A DIVING instructor and his students nearly died when they were tangled in an abandoned net during a night dive at a Coral Garden site off Sapi island in Kota Kinabalu recently.
“At 12.5m (depth), we became aware of a large ghost-style net in our path, stretching from the bottom of the reef to the surface. No sooner had we realised the net was there, we became entangled inside it,” said Luke JC, who has 30 years of experience as a diving instructor.
He managed to cut the net using tools that he had brought along, and freed himself and his students. They aborted the dive immediately.
“The incident could have cost us our lives. The lack of enforcement at marine parks is not acceptable.
“This is a serious accident waiting to happen.”
The net mentioned by Luke JC was likely to have drifted from outside Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and ended at the Coral Garden dive site.
Sabah Parks enforcement and operations deputy director Maijol Spait said over the past few days, the sea had been choppy with strong currents due to Typhoon Mangkhut, which could have brought the net to the park.
“It is difficult to tackle drifting trash or nets due to waves and currents.
“The Sabah Parks management will mobilise enforcement and research units for underwater clean-ups, especially at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park dive sites soon,” he said, adding that enforcement operation and regular patrol would also be conducted.
Maijol said besides regular patrolling, Sabah Parks had been conducting Op Pancing I and II to inspect tour boat operators, which led to six of them being compounded.
However, there was no netting activities found at the park.
On Sept 15, in conjunction with World Clean-up Day, Sabah Parks and 13 dive operators collected 260kg of trash at 15 dive sites, while more than 400kg of trash was picked up from Sulug and Manukan islands.
“We are doing all we can. In fact, over the last few weeks, we have upped our enforcement patrolling.
“One of the indicators of the success of the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park is that the marine life, including fish, still thrive within the park areas, whereas the stock outside is so depleted that fishermen had been sneaking into the park more often nowadays.”