5th International Marine Conference

Large nets like this 6-tonne Thai gill net bought into Gove Harbour, NT, are illegal throughout the world as they are over 2kms long (in this case 6kms). Photo by Jane Dermer.

5th International Marine Debris Conference

Honolulu, Hawai’i 2011

It was an inspiring event, with 38 countries represented by over 400 people working in a diverse range of fields. Generously funded by the NGRMG, GNA was fortunate to be able to send four staff. Wellesley Island Ranger Ezra Scholes and Ranger Coordinator Kelly Gardner attended from our partner organisation, the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, while Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox represented the CSIRO team. There were also many other Australians flying the flag in their various capacities as either marine debris practitioners or researchers.

GNA’s participation in the conference was huge and very well received - in total we gave five presentations to the conference delegates covering different aspects of GNA work, we showcased one video, gave a talk to a local community group and participated in a panel debate on whether the role of clean up activities were only addressing the symptoms or were part of the solution to the problem.

Our presentations began with a general overview of all aspects of the project, followed by specific talks about the use of cyber tracker in citizen science, how to maintain partnerships, the role of IPA’s and an overview of our reuse/ recycling initiatives.

We also attended an important workshop on the problem of Discarded, Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear in the South East Asian region which was hosted by the U.S Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and also attended by representatives from the United Nations Environment Program, Korea, Thailand and Taiwan to name a few. The outcome of this particular workshop will be a small collaborative project with seed funding from NOAA.

Apart from what each individual gained from the conference, GhostNets Australia now knows it is not fighting the battle alone. With an understanding of where we fit in the global marine debris issue and with our newly forged and, hopefully long term, partnerships GNA is now in a position to better plan our strategies for the future.

Other major outcomes are the Honolulu Commitment and the Honolulu Strategy. By bringing together key players from governments, research bodies and industry, the Honolulu Commitment marks a new approach to help reduce the extensive damage caused by marine debris to marine habitats, the global economy and biodiversity, as well as the risks posed to human health. The Strategy is a living document that can be used by any organisation or government in the formulation of their own specific marine debris strategies.