It’s taken six months, two ranger groups and a helicopter to move an 11-tonne ghostnet detected in coastal waters off the Northern Territory, Australia.
Local rangers manager Michael Schultz said by the time the net was towed in and left in the bay, it was about the size of two or three shipping containers.
“We found sharks, large hammerhead sharks, other sharks like black tip reef sharks, lots of different fish, golden snapper, catfish, there were possibly turtles in it.”
Michael also said there were also live fish in the net, that had come from international waters - which can present a biosecurity problem.
“There were some catfish that we couldn’t readily identify - that had probably come in from northern waters - that aren’t endemic to the local region.”
It was the first time Michael and his team of rangers had to use a helicopter to deal with a ghostnet.
“Usually the ghostnets that we deal with down here at Wadeye are smaller broken up fragments that wash up on beaches, and we tend to put them in a trailer and take them to the tip, or burn them on the spot, whereas this one being so large, it had to be lifted out.”
Department of Resources marine ranger co-ordinator Simon Xeureb says it wasn’t until a few weeks later that the remaining five tonnes of the net could be removed.
“The net was dragged within 50 meters of the high tide mark, and we put a 50 millimetre shipping anchor and 100 millimetre shipping rope all the way to the shore line.
“We then knew the weather would change within the next couple of weeks, and the north-westerly influence would push that net high and dry into the dune country.
“The Wuducupildiyer rangers went back on the next set of springs, and on the spring low they were able to cut the net further up and any remaining net that was tailing towards the water.
“They put some bamboo shafts in and actually floated them up with drums, and took the whole lot out of the water, and burnt it on the dead low tide.”
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