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Published: 15 May 2021

By Andy Ross

Discovering Textiles - Ghost Nets

The problem with plastics is that the quality that make them so useful to people is also the quality that causes long-term problems. 

Plastics are long-lasting; their durability is one of the benefits of the material. However this means that plastics stay around in some form for far longer than simply their intended usable lifespan. Some is recycled but lots still finds its way into landfills, rivers and ultimately the oceans of the planet. As if this was not enough, abandoned fishing nets, often also made of plastic rope, float in the oceans where they continue to fulfil their function of trapping marine life.

Erub in the Torres Strait is an island close to Papua New Guinea and is part of Australia. Abandoned nets, called "Ghost Nets" because of their silent, lethal effects on fish, mammals and corals of the seas, affect the way of life of the 400 Erubam people too. Erub Arts worked with islanders and collaborative international artists to highlight the way these pieces of ocean flotsam are endangering life, in the process making use of traditional weaving, plaiting and sewing techniques to create amazing worlds. This article explains more about the project, as does this one, both from the Australian Sea Museum. (Warning: the articles include some upsetting photographs of the effects of these nets on ocean life.)