Ghost nets fished out of Strait
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