The Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery

In partnership with with OceanEarth Foundation, through its Ghostnets Australia program, OzFish Unlimited are on a mission to remove abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear (ghost gear) from our delicate marine environments.

For years we have been hearing about piles of abandoned crab pots accumulating in popular fishing spots in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, so in 2024, we are launching the Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery! We are on our way north to clean some of these up, but more importantly, we are interested in turning off the tap.

To do this, we need to to better understand the issue, allowing us to have informed discussions with both rec fishers and industry. By filling out this survey, you are helping us to find a solution so that we can reduce the accumulation of ghost gear and stop it at the source.

Go in the draw to win one of five $100 BCF vouchers by completing the survey.

All data collected in this survey will remain anonymous and be used solely to inform the discussions as part of this project. Click here to read the survey Terms and Conditions.


Community clean-ups Northern Australia

As a part of this project, we are also on our way up North to deliver two clean up events involving OzFish members, local volunteers and Indigenous Rangers. These community clean-ups are happening mid-year in Kurumba QLD, and Borroloola NT. Once the ghost gear is collected, it will be dismantled, with the netting contributing to OzFish’s Tackle Loop recycling program.



  • What is ghost gear?

    Ghost gear refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded, much of which often goes unseen.

    Crab pots used incorrectly or left in the water when not being used can become lost and may continue to ‘ghost fish’, trapping other fish and wildlife.


  • Why is ghost gear a problem?

    Ghost gear The Australian Marine Conservation Society lists ghost gear and abandoned fishing lines and nets as among the most lethal type of marine debris. They cause injury or death to the many marine species that become entangled in them. It also damages critical marine habitats such as coral reefs.

    Additionally, the materials that make up these ghost nets slowly deteriorate to eventually form microplastics, which can damage natural food webs and ecosystems.

  • Where is ghost gear most commonly found?

    In Australia, the vast majority of ghost nets are found across northern Australia, causing issues for many of the remote communities.

  • How do I responsibly go crabbing?

    The proper use of fishing gear is ultimately the responsibility of fishers.

    • Make sure your crab pot/dilly is heavy enough and has enough rope attached to the float so it’s not lost in strong tidal currents. Lost crabbing gear can harm animals and becomes litter.
    • Make sure your pots/dillies are in water deep enough at all stages of the tide so animals caught in the gear are not exposed to the sun and unwanted crabs can be released alive.
    • Sort your crabs on a pot-by-pot basis to remove any no-take crabs before moving on. If you don’t, any illegal catch in your pot is considered to be in your possession.
    • Check your pots/dillies regularly to ensure any bycatch or no-take crabs can be released unharmed. Ideally, you should not leave gear unattended.
    • Report derelict, abandoned or lost crab pots.

    Click here for more information and Recreational fishing rules from the Queensland Government. The NSW Department of Primary Industries have also put together a resource on responsible crab fishing that can be found here.

  • What do I do if I come across ghost gear?

    Fishers who spot unmarked, lost or abandoned crab pots are urged to record an accurate location or GPS coordinates and report it to the Fishwatch hotline.

    Call the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116 or submit a report online.

    Entangled, stranded, injured or deceased marine animals can be reported to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

  • What is ghost fishing?

    Ghost fishing refers to lost & abandoned fishing gear that is no longer controlled by a fisher, but still captures fish.

  • Ghost Nets Initiative

    Due to ghost gear being such a huge issue for Australia, The Australian Government has launched the Ghost Nets Initiative. Find out more here.


20 FEBRUARY 2024 | Tackling ghost gear in Aussie waters

Fisheries in northern Australia are experiencing the negative impact of abandoned, lost, and discarded crab pots. In collaboration with OceanEarth Foundation, through its Ghostnets Australia program, OzFish has launched the Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery to recover these ghost pots and find a preventative solution. Crab pots used incorrectly or left in the water when not being used are becoming a serious threat to the marine environment. These pots, often referred to as ‘ghost gear’ or ‘ghost traps,’ can keep catching recreationally and commercially valuable fish and crustaceans long after they have been forgotten or lost.

Find Out More

This project is an initiative by OceanEarth Foundation, in partnership with OzFish Unlimited. This Ghost Nets Innovative Solutions project received grant funding from the Australian Government. It is also supported by BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.