[ASC-media] Media Release: floating killers threaten sealife

SciBiz Media jtyler at netspace.net.au
Wed Apr 21 10:21:43 EST 2004

21 April 2004

Ghost Nets – floating killers

Bundles of abandoned nets from fishing operations are continuing to 
catch fish indefinitely– long after their escape from fishing boats – 
posing a major environmental threat to sealife around Australia.

According to resource manager Riki Gunn, the abandoned nets are a major 
threat to turtles in northern waters, particularly the Gulf of 
Carpenteria, where the Arafura Sea feeds the gulf area.

Speaking at the Coast to Coast 2004 conference, Riki says that while 
most of the nets are of international origin, the problem becomes local 
when the nets and their dead cargo reach shore.

“A helicopter survey of turtles in the Gulf revealed absolutely 
enormous bundles of netting every kilometre of coastline traversed – 
averaging five of these bundles for every one kilometre” she says.

“Recently a net confiscated from an illegal boat in the Arafura sea 
measured a staggering16 kilometres long.”

“These vast quantities of netting drifting around at sea are a deadly 
trap for sealife and can seriously harm local wildlife, and we want to 
bring a community focus to the issue.”

“There are many actions that the community can take that will help 

“If we can monitor and document the source of the problem, we can have 
ammunition to help policy makers.”

As well as the northern waters, Tasmania’s southern seas are also a 
prime area for marine debris and lost or broken nets, with the Southern 
Ocean and the density of fishing operations in the State’s south 
creating problems for seals and seabirds.

Gunn is organising a forum in May to seek solutions, with 
representatives including all the aboriginal communities surrounding 
the Gulf, and all three levels of government, including Senator 

She is a Director on the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group, 
Secretary of the Barramundi Restocking Association, and is an ex-fisher 
based Karumba, Qld.

Media Enquiries: Jess Tyler, SciBiz Media, 0408 298 292

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