ABU DHABI // Discarded tyres, a fishing rod, a hammer and a plastic wall clock were recovered from Abu Dhabi's four ports yesterday by a team of more than 80 divers trawling for junk.
"We enjoy the marine life and for us to protect it, we need to take care of it," said Abdullah Ayoub, 42, an automatic engineer at Gasco who led a team of 15 divers from his company.
Yesterday marked the eighth time Gasco has taken part in the Emirates Diving Association's marine clean-ups.
The volunteers' usual haul includes cans, plastic bottles and bags and discarded fishing nets and cages.
Yesterday, divers cleared rubbish from Mina Zayed, the Free Port, the New Free Port and the Fishers Port.
Their finds included pipes, metal frames and plastic boat parts.
The clean-up campaign is part of Abu Dhabi Terminals' efforts to protect the marine environment, which it says is facing an unprecedented threat from pollution, waste and urban development.
"We cannot do it alone," said Abdulla Al Muharrami, the deputy chief executive officer at Abu Dhabi Terminals.
"We need the support of both the government and private sectors."
A total of 250 volunteers, including 150 divers, signed up for the two-day campaign, which is to conclude today with a clean-up at Mussaffah Port.
Khalid Al Hammadi, 31, a Takatof volunteer, found a square plastic clock on the seabed.
"Maybe it came from one of the big boats," he said.
Another team was led by Abdullah Al Ali, 40, an immigration department worker, who also serves as the organiser at the Emirates Diving Association in Fujairah, Khor Fakkan and Kalba.
"Many people don't care about the environment," he said. "They should be fined for throwing rubbish into the sea. This is my country and I should do my part."
Mohammed Younis Al Shehhi, 30, and Mohammed Abdullah Al Dhaheri, 25, from Sharjah Police, were also participating.
"We like diving but we also want to protect the environment," said Mr Al Shehhi. "We take cans, bottles, rope, fishing nets and so much rubbish out of the waters."
Yahya Mokhtar, 45, a control engineer at Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, co-ordinated 18 divers at the Free Port.
"We have about 80 to 100 divers in our company," he said. "Part of our vision is to spread marine awareness and contribute to the environment and society."
"It's nice to see a group of divers who are committed to the environment," said Kathleen Russell, the manager and course director at the capital's Al Mahara Diving Centre. "We would like to live in a cleaner and healthier world."
Some of the waste will be recycled, with the Abu Dhabi Center of Waste Management providing bins to segregate plastic, cans, bottles, paper and general waste.