Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been abandoned at sea, lost accidentally, or deliberately discarded. They travel the oceans of the world with the currents and tides, continually fishing as they progress through the waters. As they are unattended and roaming they fish indiscriminately, not only catching threatened species but undersized and protected fish as well.
What is GhostNets Australia?
Northern Australia supports an array of marine and coastal species, including six of the worlds seven marine turtle species and four sawfish species, many of whose populations have declined elsewhere. Ghost nets are part of vast rafts of marine debris arriving from south east Asia that are fouling this otherwise pristine coastline, which is mostly owned and occupied by Indigenous peoples of Australia.
GhostNets Australia is an alliance of over 22 indigenous communities from coastal northern Australia across the three states of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. The programme was established in 2004 with funding from the Australian Government. Since its inception, the programme has supported Indigenous Rangers to remove over 7,500 ghost nets of varying sizes. This has resulted in the recovery of a proportion of the trapped wildlife, particularly marine turtles (52%), and the prevention of the ghost nets from returning to the sea to continue their destructive life-cycle. Less than 10% of these nets have been attributed to Australian fisheries.
This project is also enabling Aboriginal communities to fulfil their aspirations of having stewardship of their customary lands and adjacent marine environment, known as "caring for country."
Set up under a beautiful tree, Ghost Nets Australia were an integral part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2012 and provided a soothing space to retreat from the madness of wheeling and dealing at the Art Fair. The work they do helping and mentoring people to create a little piece of magic from a ghost net is fabulous but the best part of it is the creations they produce. Absolute works of art and I am in awe of how they produce them!
Here is a taste of some of the pieces.