Turtley great way to educate on marine pollution

Turtles are a treasured part of our marine environment, so it is fitting that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) recently commissioned a piece of ghost net artwork featuring a turtle for its Darwin office to start a conversation around marine debris and abandoned fishing gear.

In recent years, indigenous Australian artists have caught the world’s attention by turning ghost nets into amazing artworks that represents their culture and environment. This piece is one of four commissioned from Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists that now feature in AFMA’s three offices in Darwin, Canberra and Thursday Island.

Ghost nets are lost or abandoned fishing gear that continue to fish indiscriminately as they drift through the water and can endanger marine life such as; fish, sea turtles, seabirds, dugongs and dolphins.

Artist Marrawakamirr (Susan) Marrawunggu from Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts in the remote East Arnhem Land community of Gapuwiyak, drew on her clan and connection to country to create Mukarr (Ancestral Turtle) out of abandoned fishing net and string.

Mukarr (Ancestral Turtle) by artist Marrawakamirr (Susan) Marrawunggu from Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts.

AFMA’s Darwin-based General Manager of Operations Peter Venslovas said that education and awareness on all aspects of fisheries management was important for the future of healthy fisheries.

“Mukarr (Ancestral Turtle) is a spectacular piece of ghost net art that provides insight into Gapuwiyak creation time stories and reminds us of the damaging impact abandoned fishing gear has on the marine environment,” Mr Venslovas said.

“To detect and retrieve abandoned fishing gear AFMA takes a whole of government approach working closely with Maritime Border Command (within the Australian Border Force), Parks Australian and Indigenous Rangers.

“Where possible AFMA donates retrieved nets to indigenous art centres and national galleries for reuse in creative projects.”

Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts is a community owned Arts Centre based in Gapuwiyak in Arnhem Land. Their vision is that we strengthen our culture and our community by learning from our past and leading the way for our children.

Find images on other pieces including Crayfish, Spanish mackerel and Seu Gadin on AFMA’s Facebook page.

For more information on AFMA’s ghost net artwork or our work retrieving abandoned fishing nets visit afma.gov.au.