Image of Torres Strait ghost net December 2022
23 December 2022

Earlier this month, three large ghost nets were removed from Queensland waters between the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Torres Strait, in a joint operation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Parks Australia.

Prior to retrieval, the location of the three ghost nets was monitored as part of a global positioning systems (GPS) ghost net tracker trial being conducted by AFMA and Parks Australia. GPS tracking enhances our ability to continually track the ghost nets while they are drifting and arrange for their retrieval by an appropriate vessel. The use of GPS tracking devices also provides valuable information relating to the movement of ghost nets in Australian and adjacent waters.

The three ghost nets weighed a total of eight tonnes and are believed to have come from foreign fishing vessels operating in waters north of Australia.

Ghost nets are lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing nets that drift across oceans, posing a global threat to marine life and ecosystems. Ghost nets can introduce marine pests and synthetic materials to the marine environment and create safety hazards impacting shipping or navigation.

The three ghost nets contained living marine species including a cod, octopus and several crabs that were subsequently released. Two dead moray eels were also found in the nets.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas highlighted the importance of removing ghost nets from Australian waters.

“Ghost nets drifting in Australian waters can kill our marine life and be a danger to vessels, so it’s paramount they’re removed when possible,” Mr Venslovas said.

Jason Mundy, Parks Australia Head of Marine Protected Areas, said managing and removing threats to Australian Marine Parks was a high priority.

“Ghost nets can be over 100 metres long and drift into some of our most sensitive marine habitats,” Mr Mundy said.

“Removing these nets is important for the protection of marine species and the safety of those who work in and enjoy our marine environment.”

More information on how AFMA is committed to protecting the marine environment can be found on our Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear webpage and afma.gov.au.

For more information about Australian Marine Parks, visit parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.

For more information about ghost nets, visit parksaustralia.gov.au/ghost-nets-initiative.