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Bohol fishermen fish out discarded fishing nets to save biodiversity-rich Danajon Bank


Fishermen in northern Bohol involved in an international initiative to get rid of fishing nets discarded in the Philippines' and Southeast Asia's only barrier reef have doubled their daily earnings to P200 from just P100. They supplement their income by selling the used fishing nets for P8.00 to P10.00 per kilogram.
 
Proponents of the project, dubbed as Net-Works, said they have recovered nearly 70 tons of discarded nets from 14 different collection sites in the Danajon Bank and the Bantayan Islands.
 
“People know there is this environmental problem, they live around that waste, they want to do something about it, but they are not empowered for them to able able to do so, and this project has really helped empower them,” said Nick Hill of the ZSL, in an interview with GMA News' Tina Panganiban Perez.
 
To be exact, the project has taken out 66,860 kilograms of used fishing nets that would have posed a continuing, long term hazard to marine life in what is considered one of the most important marine ecosystems in the world.

Edrich Baron, a fisherman from Bohol, has been a participant of Net-Works for two years. "Yung dating basurang lambat na nakakalat sa karagatan, sa baybayin, ngayon naging pera na," he says.


 
 
Danajon Bank stretches for some 90 miles. It is one of only six double barrier reefs in the whole world, according to the USAID conservation website OneOcean.org.
 
“We've been able to use the nylon that comes from the recycled nets and turn that back into nylon to be used for the carpet,” said Rob Coombs, president and CEO for Asia, Interface.
 
Net-Works is a collaboration of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), carpet tile maker Interface, yarn supplier Aquafil, the government of the United Kingdom.
 
“Overfishing and pollution have led to severe ecological damage to the reef, resulting in far less fish for the community, whose typical family income is only $6.50 per day. Discarded nets exacerbate this problem as they continue to catch and kill fish (ghost fishing), damaging the habitat the fish depend on,” the proponents said in a dossier posted online.
 
The proponents estimate that the “length of nets discarded each year in this area, if laid out end to end, is 400 times the length of Danajon Bank, equivalent to 1.5 times the world’s circumference.”
 
The commitment of ZSL to the Danajon Bank is long term. The Net-Works project started in 2012.  
 
Over two years ago, the ZSL, through Project Seahorse, working with the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), led an expedition designed to create global awareness about the rich biodiversity of the double barrier reef.

ZSL and Interface have disclosed that they will soon expand to their third Philippine site, in northern Iloilo sustained by a $330,000 grant from the United KIngdom's Darwin Initiative.

According to Greenpeace, the Philippines ranks third in the world in terms of garbage thrown into the oceans. Greenpeace also estimates that of the 100 million tons of plastic the world produces, 10 million tons end up in the oceans and seas as waste.

"Can you imagine isang island twice the size of Texas?" Greenpeace oceans campaigner  Vince Cinches said to describe how huge the plastic waste problem is in the interview with Tina Panganiban Perez. — Tina Panganiban Perez/Earl Victor Rosero, GMA News
Tags: fishing, fishnets
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