Gill nets are indiscriminate killers, with a variety of marine wildlife around the world accidentally trapped and drowned in these so-called “walls of death”. So we’re delighted to report on a new initiative from WWF-Australia, which has effectively created a 100,000 square kilometre refuge in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef – a natural World Heritage site – where wildlife can be free from commercial gill nets. This has been achieved by buying the region’s last commercial gill net licence with a sizeable quota – and then shelving use of the licence. The northern Great Barrier Reef supports globally significant populations of dugong and marine turtle, species whose future remains uncertain due to human activities including accidental capture in fishing nets.
Our efforts to support people and wildlife in the area continue. We’re calling for the area to be permanently protected from commercial gill net fishing, and for additional net-free zones to be established along the Queensland coast to protect threatened species and create new tourism opportunities.