Kilometer-long ‘ghost’ nets left by foreign fishing vessels dubbed ‘industrial killing machines’ floating off Australian coast
Long “ghost” nets that stretch for several kilometers and weigh more than a tonne have been described by Australia’s federal environment minister as “industrial killing machines”.
The massive nets that are often thrown into the oceans by foreign fishing vessels can cause significant damage to marine wildlife.
Officers from the Australian Fisheries and Management Authority (AFMA) have recovered a massive net weighing more than five tonnes near the Gulf of Carpentaria on Australia’s north coast.
AFMA officers recently recovered several ghost nets (pictured) off Australia’s northern coast after they were discarded by fishing boats.
Dead marine animals, including whaler sharks, mackerel and crabs, were found entangled in the net.
Several living sea creatures, including corals, clams and shells, were also discovered.
Discarded nets pose a major threat to native marine wildlife, as they can cause the introduction of pests and other dangerous species into the oceans.
This poses a danger to Australian marine animals, in addition to the risk of becoming trapped in nets.
Nets also pose a major navigational hazard, which can affect navigational exercises on waterways.
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said Courier mail nets can destroy living organisms and their habitats.
“These are killing machines on an industrial scale, capturing and drowning dugongs, sharks, whales, turtles and other animals,” Ms Plibersek said.
“The removal of these nets is important for the protection of marine species and the safety of those who work and enjoy our marine environment.”
AFMA officers removed a net (pictured) from the water which weighed more than five tonnes and had trapped several live and dead animals, including whale sharks and crabs.
The net which was recovered by AFMA officers along with several others is believed to have been discarded by foreign fishing boats patrolling Australia’s northern waters.
The nets are swept further out to sea, but current sea conditions are helping them drift towards coastal areas of northern Australia, including the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Removing ghost nets from Australian waters is costing the Australian government almost $15 million.
The current government has provided a new 3 million dollars grant in 2022 to combat ghost nets.
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek (pictured) called ghost nets “destruction machines on an industrial scale”, capable of destroying marine life and their habitats.
Austral Fishers CEO David Carter told the newspaper the partnership between the fishing industry and government agencies to protect marine life by removing nets was essential.
“Our fishing industry is on the frontline of Australia’s maritime borders and well placed to detect and respond to ghost nets and to respond to other threats such as illegal fishing,” Mr Carter said.
Parks Australia said in a recent report that there is currently no “simple solution” for recycling ghost nets and other waste from fishing activities in northern Australia.