GhostNets goes to source
GhostNets Australia is looking to help Indonesian fishers stop stray fishing nets from reaching our shores.
Discarded nets drift around on ocean currents, causing chaos for marine animals and damaging coral reefs.
GhostNets Australia has worked for years to collect data about abandoned fishing nets, runs program to teach Indigenous rangers to find and collect them from beaches.
The group is now looking at way to stop the nets becoming a problem in the first place.
“Just to continually clean up nets is almost futile,” GhostNets founder Riki Gunn said in an interview with the ABC.
“There's a lot of good will involved in that but what we really need to do is clean up from the source.”
She said nets were usually lost or dumped by fishermen off the coast of Indonesia, and that a crackdown on illegal fishing and trawling by the Indonesian government would help.
But Ms Gunn says it will take time for improvements to reach down to the individual level.
“One of the problems we found is the fisherman aren't necessarily making a reasonable profit, they're not doing well,” she said.
“We can help them improve their profit margin and instil in them a better understanding of the importance of looking after their gear and equipment.
“It might be something as simple as a better reporting system when they lose a net so they can go back and pick it up.”
GhostNets Australia has run six workshops with fishers in ghost net hot-spots already, and has received seed funding from the Federal Government to develop a new program to educate fishermen.
“I don't think working on the outside and imposing regulations is as effective as working directly with fishermen on collaborative solutions,” she said.