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5 May 2009

Ghost Nets

HORACE NONA: My name is Horace Nona. I'm from Badu Island in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait is situated between the tip of Cape York and the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Ghost nets are nets that have accidentally fallen off vessels and are floating in the middle of the ocean. But the majority of the nets are left behind by international fishermen. When they get lost, that's when the problem starts because while they're floating, they're still fishing. You know, we get a lot of turtles and dugongs getting caught in the net. Fish, sharks, whatever. Of course, northern Australia's got a number of tidal systems. They float anywhere. Because we live off the sea and the sea is the major commodity for our existence, yeah, it becomes a problem. And when we find a net, we pick it up, put it above the high-tide mark. So if we have a stretch of beach and then we have six or seven nets, we pile it into one pile and then we come back and pick them up and take them to the dump. You know, there is that much nets out there (sic), the impact that they have on the natural resources that we take for consumption and to really tell us who we are - you know, through culture and through tradition.

SAMANTHA MULLER: My name's Samantha Muller. I'm a Carpentaria Ghost Nets Program project officer for Northern Territory. The Design for a Sea Change Competition is being judged here at the Garma Festival. And it was open to all of Australia. And we've asked applicants and people to put on their thinking caps and think of ideas of how to use ghost nets to create products that Indigenous communities all around the Gulf can use to make some economic development activities and projects. We've had some really good entries from people with commercial interests, industrial design ideas and some products that communities might be able to weave into different products to be able to sell. We've invited everyone here at Garma to participate and to come and look at it, find out about ghost nets, have a look at the work the rangers are doing and also vote for themselves. So they've had an opportunity to look at the entries. We've culled it down to the top 27 and we've asked people to make their choice as to who they think will win. As you can see with the kids behind us here, the hammocks are a really great option. People love sitting on hammocks. And ghost nets do make a very comfortable hammock.
I'm sitting here among the winning prizes at the moment. This is a display that was sent in from Melbourne - a group that put together a range of products. So the chair that I'm sitting on is one of these products. You can see it here with this girl that's leaning back. This is a fruit bowl, and a couple of the kids from the community just came up and said, "Oh, is that for a baby?" So I guess a baby could sit in that too. And their third product, and you can probably see it best in the picture down here, is the kitchen hanger. So this kitchen hanger, it's a really simple idea, it's just using a piece of net, as you can see. It's got these hooks and you can just put in, you know, your spatulas or your spoons for cooking and that kind of thing and it looks really good in the design that they've done on their wall. So this is a range of products. This came second. Second prize. And the first prize that the judges chose was this guitar strap. Now, this guitar strap... Now, it says here, actually. ..was made of all recycled products, materials. So the basis for it is the ghost net. You can see that it's been tightened out. These are plastic bags they've made into plastic bag feathers. They've made the top and the bottom of the guitar strap from an inner tube. And this bit here is made out of a thong that they found also on the beach. Thongs are one of the pieces of rubbish that is often found on the beaches out this way. So we thought this was very clever and the weave through here is using other nets made of different colours. So this kind of a product could be used to make, say, a doormat that's a bit bigger, or any kind of product could be made out of this. The judges really liked the way it was using weaving skills and using different kinds of nets and materials to produce something that communities would be comfortable to use their creativity to develop further.