Understanding causes of gear loss provides a sound basis for fisheries management
Derelict fishing nets comprise a significant amount of the marine debris in the world's oceans and on its shorelines. These ‘ghost nets’ result in economic losses for the fishing industry, pose hazards to navigation at sea, and can entangle marine and terrestrial wildlife. Ghost nets are an acute problem along Australia's northern coastline, with most nets originating from Southeast Asian fishing vessels outside Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). To understand the causes of gear loss and identify tractable solutions to this transboundary problem, Australian and Indonesian fishers (N = 54) were asked why, when and in what circumstances and conditions they are likely to lose gear. Fishers identified snagging of nets (78%) and gear conflicts (19%) as the main causes of gear loss. These interviews informed the development of a fault tree, as a tool to identify the chain of events that result in gear loss or abandonment. The fault tree analysis provides recommendations for interventions and improvements in regional fisheries management to reduce fishing gear loss ultimately resulting from overcrowding, overcapacity and illegal, unreported and unregulated Fishing (IUU).