GHOST NETS 2004-2009; Summary Report from Australia's northern shores
Article taken from GNA news issue 5
Ghost Nets Australia (GNA) Summary Report
Between 2004 and 2009, Ghost Nets Australia (GNA) rangers removed and recorded 6,035 nets of varying sizes across approximately 1500km of north Australian coastline. The data that rangers recorded from these nets built into such a large database that GNA thought it was about time to get it published! So in the middle of this year, the data was collated into a summary report that gives an indication of the type and origins of the nets, as well as highlighting the impact that they have on the marine environment.
All this data highlighted distinct patterns showing the accumulation of nets in certain areas, or net ‘hotspots.’ These hotspots are predominantly found in the north-eastern and north-western corners of the Gulf and are the reason why the rangers in those areas are working so hard to clear their beaches!
By matching the nets found to examples in the ‘Net Kit’, compiled by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an indication of both their type of fishery and the country from which they originated has been possible. The most frequently recorded nets were trawl nets and came from Taiwan and Indonesia.
Ghost nets are a threat to many marine animals, particularly turtles (of which six of the world’s seven species are found in north Australian waters). The nets recorded by GNA contained fish, crabs, sharks, sea snakes, crocodiles, dugong and over 100 turtles. Unfortunately, the true number of animals caught in nets could be expected to be significantly higher than that recorded, as the passage of time may see many of the trapped animals decay out of the net before they are found.
The results of the summary report confirm what rangers have been saying for many years - ghost nets are a huge problem in north Australia. It is only through the hard work that rangers do to record and remove the nets that people will understand the problem and change can happen.
The GhostNets team would like to send a big thank you to all the rangers who recorded this data, to everyone who helped put this document together and to those who have helped make the program a success. Copies of the 2004-2009 GNA Summary Report can be found on the GhostNets Australia websitewww.ghostnets.com.au