AUSTRALIAN Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Maritime Border Command (MBC) and Australian Border Force have removed a one-kilometre-long ghost net from the Torres Strait in a joint operation.
The 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.
Authorities believe an illegal foreign fishing vessel operating inside Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone abandoned the ghost net.
AFMA general manager fisheries operations Justin Bathurst said the 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,” he said.
MBC commander Rear Admiral Justin Jones said he 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,” Rear Admiral Jones said.
“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.”