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Deep sea cleaning - Nicole turns diving hobby into eco-fishing mission

17 Oct, 2019 | published at 10:00 CET

The director of operations for one of Europe’s biggest packaging poolers is taking the planet’s health into her own hands, by spending her leisure time scouring the world’s ocean beds to clean up discarded plastics that harm marine life and coral formations.

Nicole Oye, diving instructor husband Thorsten and their friends plunge the depths of oceans all over the world to retrieve the harmful pollution they first started noticing while enjoying their deep-sea adventures a few years ago.

Nicole, who works for PAKi, part of the Europe-wide Faber Halbertsma Group, began diving as a hobby in 1995.

“We travel every year around the world for different dive locations – including the Maldives and the Philippines. We started noticing lots of rubbish and pollution on our dives which was very worrying and it has got worse over the years,” said Nicole, who lives and works in Ennepatel, 50km from Dusseldorf.

“What was a hobby has now turned into a clean-up, with us and our friends diving with mesh bags and retrieving what we can off the ocean beds so it cannot interfere with the marine life. A lot of it is plastic so easy to bring to the surface.

“If we find bottles that coral has started forming around, we will leave that because it has become part of the eco-system, but everything else we can carry, we gather up.

“Once we have come to the surface, we take it to be disposed of and we make sure that it goes to the right places. We ask the dive centres or the hotels what they do with the waste because you cannot assume it will be disposed of carefully, as it would be in Europe.”

“We always try and identify the right organisations that can help,” added Nicole, who is holidaying this year in Egypt, where she and her diving friends have set their sights on the Red Sea.

Thorsten, a keen photographer, has also captured many of the images under the waves.

“Where we live in Germany, there are many disused industrial areas that have been turned into lakes which is where we practice our diving when we are not overseas,” Nicole added.

Faber Halbertsma Group’s corporate marketing and communication manager, Frans Colthoff, said: “Nicole is a shining example of someone who lives the values of our company and wants to make a difference, even in her spare time.

“We need to further the conversation about plastic waste and what better way to do that than by protecting the delicate ecosystem of our oceans, which are hit hard by the planet’s collective failure to reduce its reliance on this type of packaging.

“Everyone in the team is very proud of Nicole and her ongoing dedication to causes she – and all of us – believe strongly in.”