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Butler J.R.A.,CSIRO | Gunn R.,GhostNets Australia | Berry H.L.,University of Canberra | Wagey G.A.,Arafura Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Program | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2013

Lost or discarded fishing nets are a significant component of marine debris which has trans-boundary impacts in large marine ecosystems. Such 'ghost nets' cause the by-catch of marine fauna and require retrieval from coastlines where they wash up. Identifying the causes of discarded nets and feasible intervention points requires analysis of a complex value chain and the stakeholders within it, yet no studies have attempted this. In this paper we combine Value Chain Analysis, commonly applied to understand value-adding for a commodity, with elements of Life Cycle Assessment and social network analysis to examine the drivers, stakeholders, economic, environmental and social costs and benefits in the life of a trawl net. We use the Arafura Sea as a case study, which is shared by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, and is the focus of a Trans-boundary Diagnostic Assessment (TDA) within the Arafura-Timor Seas Ecosystem Action program (ATSEA). We follow a trawl net through four sub-systems: manufacture of webbing in South Korea, fishing and loss by an Indonesian vessel, retrieval as ghost net on the northern Australian coastline by Indigenous rangers, and disposal or re-cycling as 'GhostNet Art' by Indigenous artists. Primary stakeholders along the value chain incur economic and social benefits, and economic and environmental costs. There is an anomaly in the chain between Indonesian fishermen and Indigenous rangers, artists and communities due to the lack of market linkages between these primary stakeholders. The first 'nexus of influence' where reductions in net losses and environmental costs can be achieved is through interactions between GhostNets Australia, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Australian Government, which can influence Indonesian fishery management institutions and fishing crews. The second nexus is via the international art market which by publicising GhostNet Art can raise awareness amongst fish consumers about the impacts of ghost nets, and hence influence Indonesian fishing companies. GhostNets Australia is a key bridging organisation in the network, linking stakeholders across scales and sub-systems. Feasible preventative interventions are discussed to rectify the anomaly in the value chain. The importance of GhostNets Australia and ATSEA in the evolving adaptive co-management and trans-boundary governance of fisheries is highlighted. However, the prevention of ghost nets will result in trade-offs in benefits for the livelihoods of primary stakeholders. The utility of the method for analysing marine debris in TDAs, and ATSEA in particular, is discussed. © 2013. Source

Wilcox C.,CSIRO | Heathcote G.,GhostNets Australia | Goldberg J.,GhostNets Australia | Gunn R.,GhostNets Australia | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2015

Globally, 6.4 million tons of fishing gear are lost in the oceans annually. This gear (i.e., ghost nets), whether accidently lost, abandoned, or deliberately discarded, threatens marine wildlife as it drifts with prevailing currents and continues to entangle marine organisms indiscriminately. Northern Australia has some of the highest densities of ghost nets in the world, with up to 3 tons washing ashore per kilometer of shoreline annually. This region supports globally significant populations of internationally threatened marine fauna, including 6 of the 7 extant marine turtles. We examined the threat ghost nets pose to marine turtles and assessed whether nets associated with particular fisheries are linked with turtle entanglement by analyzing the capture rates of turtles and potential source fisheries from nearly 9000 nets found on Australia's northern coast. Nets with relatively larger mesh and smaller twine sizes (e.g., pelagic drift nets) had the highest probability of entanglement for marine turtles. Net size was important; larger nets appeared to attract turtles, which further increased their catch rates. Our results point to issues with trawl and drift-net fisheries, the former due to the large number of nets and fragments found and the latter due to the very high catch rates resulting from the net design. Catch rates for fine-mesh gill nets can reach as high as 4 turtles/100 m of net length. We estimated that the total number of turtles caught by the 8690 ghost nets we sampled was between 4866 and 14,600, assuming nets drift for 1 year. Ghost nets continue to accumulate on Australia's northern shore due to both legal and illegal fishing; over 13,000 nets have been removed since 2005. This is an important and ongoing transboundary threat to biodiversity in the region that requires attention from the countries surrounding the Arafura and Timor Seas. © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology. Source

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