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Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear ‘ghost nets’ are increasing through time in Northern Australia


Hardesty, BD and Roman, L and Duke, NC and Mackenzie, JR and Wilcox, C, Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear ghost nets' are increasing through time in Northern Australia, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 173, (Part A) Article 112959. ISSN 0025-326X (2021) [Refereed Article]

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© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112959


The remote Gulf of Carpentaria (GoC) represents 10% of Australia's coastline. This large, shallow sea supports high-value fishing activities and habitat for threatened species, and is a sink for abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) ‘ghost nets’, most originating from fishing activities outside of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone. With growing concerns about the plastic waste along the world's coastlines, we retrospectively analyzed ghost net sighting information from four aerial surveys across 15 years, to investigate whether densities of ghost nets are changing through time or in space. We found an increase in ghost nets, despite more than a decade of illegal fishing countermeasure and clean-up efforts in the broader region. This demonstrates that the input of ALDFG into the system currently overwhelms the substantial net removal activities. We make recommendations for improving monitoring and consider the underlying drivers of nets being lost to improve ghost gear management on land and at sea.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ghost nets, fishing, Australia, management, policy, derelict fishing gear, ALDFG, entanglement, ghost gear, marine debris, plastic pollution
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Commercial Services and Tourism
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable commercial services and tourism
Objective Field:Management of solid waste from commercial services and tourism
UTAS Author:Hardesty, BD (Dr Britta Hardesty)
UTAS Author:Roman, L (Dr Lauren Roman)
UTAS Author:Wilcox, C (Dr Chris Wilcox)
ID Code:147110
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2021-10-12
Last Modified:2021-12-13
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