Trawler trash impacting marine life

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Trawler trash impacting marine life


Abandoned fishing nets drifting into Australian waters are causing massive damage to marine life, particularly on the northern coastline.

These nets, called 'ghost nets', are often cut loose from foreign fishing vessels in South East Asia, and wreak havoc as they make their way south, killing fish and turtles and getting caught of coral causing extensive damage.

Removing these nets is an expensive exercise according to Ocean Watch Australia's Lyn Lambeth, but one that needs to be carried out regardless.

"There's a bit of buck passing that goes on between the different local and federal departments," she said, referring to a 30 metre ghost net off the coast of Darwin.
"I can report it as a hazard to shipping, and so then it gets marked down on the charts ... but there is no-one really then who is responsible for going and removing it."
Tangaroa Blue's Heidi Taylor said these nets can take on mammoth proportions.

"Ghost nets can be as large as several football fields. The nets become a wall of death for marine life who can become entangled in them, drowning as they can't swim or reach the surface to breath.

Gary Luchi, a former Senior Ranger for Marine Parks in Cairns said that while ghost nets weren't as prevalent on the east coast, other types of rubbish are an issue.

"When it comes to the Great Barrier Reef we didn't find there was massive evidence of a ghost net problem compared to the north coast," he said.

"Is stuff getting caught on the outer Barrier Reef? Nobody knows. Ropes and trash is is a big problem."

Mr Luchi said plastic water bottles are one of the biggest killers of marine life and pointed to the popularity of bottled water in Australia, despite the high quality of drinking water already in this country, as a major contributor to the issue.

So next time you're standing at the drink fridge, think twice about your purchase and where the packaging may end up.