Ghost nets fished out of Strait

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THEY’RE called ghost nets and are killers of vast amounts of sea life in the Gulf of Car­pen­taria and Tor­res Strait.

Last week 9.6 tonnes of aban­doned for­eign gill nets were re­moved from in­side the Aus­tralian Exclusive Eco­nomic Zone and Tor­res Strait Pro­tected Zone by a Weipa com­pany.

Car­pen­taria Con­tract­ing fished out sev­eral large clumps of nets from wa­ters near the Aus­tralian-PNG bor­der in the Tor­res Strait.

The work was com­mis­sioned by Aus­tralian Fish­eries af­ter the nets were spot­ted by an Aus­tralian Bor­der Force plane.

Rangers from the Tor­res Strait Re­gional Au­thor­ity were then sent to iden­tify the nets and note their ex­act lo­ca­tion.

The three gill­nets were in­spected for ma­rine fauna and one pro­tected tur­tle was res­cued, and re­leased alive, af­ter be­com­ing en­tan­gled. The nets weighed 9.6 tonnes and were about 1.3 kilo­me­tres long.

While the ori­gin of the nets has yet to be de­ter­mined, it is sus­pected they came from In­done­sia or other fish­ing boats from South-East Asia.

Most ghost­nets en­ter the Gulf from the north­west and move clock­wise along its shores.

They are a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem in the Gulf of Car­pen­taria where ghost­nets wash ashore at den­si­ties up to three tonnes/ km, among the high­est in the world.

It is not clear whether they were lost or left be­hind in­ten­tion­ally.

Ghost­fish­ing in the Gulf is known to kill sharks, crocodiles, and dugongs, as well as other fish and in­ver­te­brates. But it is tur­tles that are most at threat.

Ghost nets brought back to Weipa

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