Five tonnes of deadly foreign ghost net removed from Queensland waters
A large ghost net has been removed from Queensland waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria in a collaborative effort between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Parks Australia, the Northern Prawn Fishing Industry Pty Ltd, and Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd.
The ghost net weighed five tonnes and is one of the largest ever removed from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The net is believed to have come from foreign fishing vessels operating in waters to Australia’s north.
Ghost nets are lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing nets that drift across oceans, posing a global threat to marine life, ecosystems, fisheries and livelihoods. Ghost nets can introduce marine pests and synthetic materials to the marine environment and create safety hazards impacting shipping or navigation.
This particular ghost net contained living marine species including black coral, clams and various other shellfish species which were subsequently released. Whaler sharks, spotted mackerel, coral crabs and other marine life were all deceased when removed from the net.
The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Murray Watt, highlighted the importance of collaboration between government agencies and the fishing industry to remove ghost nets from Australian waters.
“Ghost nets drifting into Australian waters can kill our marine life and are a danger to vessels, so it’s paramount they’re removed when possible. By working together, we can leverage our respective strengths and resources to the benefit of all parties and the marine environment” Senator Watt said.
Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, said managing and removing threats to Australian Marine Parks was a high priority.
“Ghost nets can be several kilometres long and drift into some of our most sensitive marine habitats,” Senator Plibersek 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.”
Austral Fisheries CEO, David Carter, said “Our fishing industry is on the front line of Australia’s maritime borders and well placed to detect and respond to ghost nets and to assist with other threats such as illegal fishing. In this instance we have been proud to partner with Government agencies to remove this mountain of discarded gear.”
Indigenous Rangers from the Normanton land and Sea Rangers under the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation were on hand when the net was brought ashore to assess any biosecurity risks that might be posed by the net if it harboured foreign pest species.
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.