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Seafood Industry Australia welcomes and responds to Labor funding announced to combat ghost nets

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed funding announced on Friday, April 21, 2023 by the Labor Government to combat foreign Ghost Nets which have drifted in Australia’s northern waters. 

“Australia’s seafood industry has welcomed today’s funding announcement from Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water, and affirms our industry’s commitment to caring for Australia’s oceans and environment, and working with government, scientists, marine users, and regulators to encourage they do the same,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“As an industry, we are subject to some of the most intensive fisheries management and reporting protocols in the world. As fishers, our priority is the ocean. It’s our livelihood, and the future livelihood of generations to come

“Australia’s seafood industry is known for our world leading practices and with the support of the Australian Government we look forward to continuing to advance this position. However, omitted from today’s announcement is that 96 per cent of ghost nets found in Australian waters are from international fishers and drift here due to ocean currents. 

“The inference that Australia’s commercial fishers are responsible for dumping ghost nets, fishing nets lost at sea, into our oceans is categorically incorrect. In fact, Australia’s commercial fishers work hard to locate and remove ghost nets they find adrift, investing significant time and their own money into this. 

“As an industry we welcome any support to help make our Oceans and Environment more sustainable and clean, however it is important we make clear where the problem is originating from.” 

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“Ghost nets are not a big problem in Australia, except for the Gulf (of Carpentaria) which is now on the wane due to some intervention by the Indonesian government,” Riki Gunn founder and coordinator of Ghost Nets Australia said earlier

“We have seen a significant reduction in ghost nets washing up along the west coast of Cape York which we attribute to the Minister of Fisheries in Indonesia taking a hard stance on illegal/unregulated fishing vessels in the Arafura Sea – which were all international fisheries” Heidi Taylor managing director of Taronga Blue and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative said earlier

“In general I would say that the Australian fisheries do not contribute a significant amount of ghost net debris to Australia’s marine debris load, they are expensive to lose.”

“In fact, Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery Industry has been commended for working alongside the World Animal Protection to reduce ghost nets in the gulf through the Global Ghost Gear Initiative,” Ms Papacosta said.  

“It is misleading to infer these ghosts nets are from our Australian fishers, researchers from James Cook University have estimated more than 85 per cent of the ghost nets found along the Gulf coastline originate from outside of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, most likely from the nearby Arafura Sea between the Gulf and PNG, with the majority from fishers based in Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan.

“Fishing nets are a costly investment and Australian fishers are not in the business of watching their net profits quite literally drift away. 

“As fishers our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean, and as such the future of our livelihood.”


For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta please contact SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager via [email protected]