National Park – Ghost Nets

The remote Gulf of Carpentaria (GoC) represents 10% of Australia’s coastline. This large, shallow sea supports high-value fishing activities and habitat for threatened species, and is a sink for abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) ‘ghost nets’, most originating from fishing activities outside of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. With growing concerns about the plastic waste along the world’s coastlines, and funding from Department of Agriculture, Environment and Water, and Parks Australia to CSIRO for this work (ID:DNP-MPA-2021-21). We worked together to retrospectively analysed ghost net sighting information from four aerial surveys across 15 years, to investigate whether densities of ghost nets are changing through time or in space. Data was collected through aerial surveys by James Cook University, World Animal Protection, the GhostNets Australia (GNA) program, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries of the Northern Territory, CRC Reef Research Centre and Biodiversity and Conservation, NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment and a 2020 aerial survey by Rupert Imhoff and Nicole McLachlan. We found an increase in ghost nets, despite more than a decade of illegal fishing countermeasure and clean-up efforts in the broader region. This demonstrates that the input of ALDFG into the system currently overwhelms the substantial net removal activities. We make recommendations for improving monitoring and consider the underlying drivers of nets being lost to improve ghost gear management on land and at sea.


You can read more about the project here!