Media Release Plastic Pollution

Removing ghost nets vital for Australia’s marine health

May 4, 2021

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is encouraged by the federal government’s crackdown on ghost nets in Australia’s northern waters.

Ghost nets are discarded fishing gear including gillnets, buoys, trawl nets and crab pots that can drift in the world’s oceans for years, entangling and killing marine wildlife and smothering habitats like coral reefs.

Due to currents and conditions in the Arafura and Timor Seas and the Torres Strait, these lethal tangles of fishing gear can often converge in waters off the Northern Territory, northern Western Australia and Queensland, threatening the region’s unique marine wildlife like turtles, dugongs, sawfish, hammerhead sharks and sea snakes.

“The announcement of how the Australian government will spend its $14.8 million investment to better locate, track and remove these invisible walls of death from our waters is welcome. The use of technology, science and local knowledge we hope will go a long way to tackling this issue in our northern waters,” said Tooni Mahto, Campaign Manager at AMCS.

“In the NT, we have been supporting Aboriginal Ranger Groups to tackle the tide of marine debris washing up on their otherwise pristine coast. We are pleased to see funding allocated for Indigenous rangers to help with marine debris beach clean ups in the Gulf of Carpentaria, as well as for ghost net data collection and retrieval.”

Ms Mahto said AMCS would keep urging the Australian government to do more to find a global solution to the global problem of ghost nets.

“We are also supportive of Australia taking a leading role in pursuing a Global Oceans Treaty to ensure that human activities are strictly assessed and properly managed, so that issues like lost fishing gear are considered when allowing fisheries to operate in international waters.”

Nations are set to meet in August for negotiations over a treaty.