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Ghost nets to be removed from Gulf waters.

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Ghost nets to be removed from Gulf waters

DAFF04/237M 1 December 2004

Fishermen and environmentalists will be celebrating this morning with the Australian Government committing $2 million to clear abandoned foreign fishing nets and other debris in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Australian Fisheries and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said that his many meetings with the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group, and his knowledge of the coastal environment around Karumba and Weipa, had convinced him that this was a worthwhile project.

"This will help to rid the Gulf of ghost nets by developing a monitoring system, and by helping Indigenous communities along the coastline to remove and document ghost nets and marine debris," he said.

"These nets are a threat to marine wildlife, such as turtles, dugongs, dolphins and sea snakes, and cause losses to the fishing industry by becoming entangled in nets and lines.

"It is important to note that the vast majority of these nets come from international fleets fishing Indonesian waters and not our responsible industry."

Senator Macdonald said the money would be spent educating people of all ages and backgrounds across the Top End.

"Some of the things we will be funding are an awareness program for schools, a Gulf ghost nets web site, while we will also be seizing opportunities and community awareness raising through posters, radio and newsletters," he said.

"Existing monitoring activities in the region will be improved, while Indigenous communities will be supported in monitoring and clean-up activities, and best fishing practices will be promoted to the fishing industry. "

Planning activities will also work closely with the dugong and turtle project being undertaken by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, and involving Gulf Indigenous communities.

The project will be managed by the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483

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