0921 GMT March 04, 2021
The "ghost nets" discarded from the country's lucrative fishing industry are a deadly source of plastic pollution, ensnaring turtles and cutting into delicate coral beds, AFP reported.
Left unattended, "they could stay adrift for decades, either entrapping or becoming the food of marine animals," said Ingpat Pakchairatchakul of the London-based Environmental Justice Foundation.
Ingpat was speaking to AFP during a recent boat trip off the coast of Chonburi Province, as a team of more than 30 divers hacked away at stubborn threads enveloping a reef 27 meters (90 feet) below the vessel.
She is part of Net Free Seas, a project that fetches used nets and turns them into new plastic products — in this case meeting the burgeoning demand for protective gear like face shields to guard against the pandemic.
It aims to prove that protecting sea creatures can be commercially viable in Thailand, one of the world's biggest producers of ocean waste.
The initiative also comes in the wake of a growing local outcry over the lethal effects of plastic on marine life.