One kilometre of ‘ghost net’ removed from Torres Strait

A one-kilometre-long ghost net has been removed from the Torres Strait in a joint operation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Maritime Border Command (MBC) and Australian Border Force (ABF). 

The ghost net was spotted in waters near Deliverance Island and retrieved by hand, in a five-hour effort by the crew of the ABF Cutter Storm Bay. AFMA staff then arranged for disposal of the ghost net in accordance with Australian biosecurity requirements.

Ghost nets are lost, abandoned, or otherwise discarded fishing nets that pose a threat to marine life, ecosystems, fisheries, and livelihoods. They travel on currents and create a safety hazard which impacts on shipping and navigation. They can also introduce marine pests and synthetic materials to the environment.

The retrieved ghost net is believed to have been abandoned by an illegal foreign fishing vessel operating inside Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Unfortunately, a deceased turtle was discovered in the gillnet. 

Mr Justin Bathurst, General Manager, Fisheries Operations, AFMA, said this latest retrieval highlighted the harm ghost nets have on the marine environment, “Ghost nets are a significant issue. AFMA will continue working with other government agencies to deal with abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear that enters our Exclusive Economic Zone”.

Rear Admiral Justin Jones, Commander, MBC, was pleased with the collaboration to remove the ghost net, “Stopping illegal fishing and its negative impacts on Australia’s waters is imperative for MBC. Safeguarding our natural resources and unique biodiversity for future generations is a role that we take very seriously. 

“MBC and its partner agencies are committed to protecting Australia’s natural wildlife and resources, and the public is a valuable partner in identifying threats. If you see a ghost net, I urge you to report it to Border Watch by calling 1800 009 623.”

Alternatively, if you encounter a ghost net or other source of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, you can report it to AFMA on 02 6275 5818.

Visit AFMA’s website to find out more about ghost nets and other abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear.

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