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


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Hardesty, BD, Roman, L ORCID: 0000-0003-3591-4905, Duke, NC, MacKenzie, Jock R and Wilcox, C 2021 , 'Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear ‘ghost nets’ are increasing through time in Northern Australia' , Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 173, no. Part A , pp. 1-10 , doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112959.

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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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hardesty, BD and Roman, L and Duke, NC and MacKenzie, Jock R and Wilcox, C
Keywords: ghost nets, fishing, Australia, management, policy, derelict fishing gear, ALDFG, entanglement, ghost gear, marine debris, plastic pollution
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Publisher: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
ISSN: 0025-326X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112959
Copyright Information:

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

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