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The Ghost Net Art Project

Ghost nets are fishing nets that are lost or abandoned at sea. They represent a major threat for marine fauna and an ongoing problem for indigenous saltwater communities across the top end of Australia.

GhostNets Australia (GNA) was established to work with indigenous ranger groups to retrieve the nets and to collect data on their type and location.


The Ghost Net Art Project arose from the conundrum of what to do with the mountains of ghost net and other marine debris that indigenous rangers were retrieving from beaches along Australia’s remote northern coastline. 

GNA’s Ghost Net Art Project began in 2009 focusing on communities that were identified as ‘ghost net hotspots’, sponsoring workshops with a view to engaging community members to create art and craft. Ghost net art featured in exhibitions around Australia, and important state and national institutions acquired many major pieces for their collections. 


Public workshops were also popular, with artists being invited to events around Australia to create collaborative works with the participation of the general public. One important benefit of the Art Program has been to inform the Australian public of the threat that ghost nets pose to endangered marine animals. Saltwater people already know what the ghost nets do to their reefs and beaches. For an urban-dwelling mainstream Australian to hear about it from someone who is directly affected makes it personal in a way not otherwise possible. 

Communities and artist facilitators continue to use ghost net and marine debris as an art material and are spreading their wings further to raise awareness in other countries. Now considered an Australian art movement, ghost net art has been exhibited in Singapore, Monaco, Geneva, Paris, London and New York, and continues to be in high demand. 

As our art team sums it up:  “that this most destructive material is being transformed into works of art is a wonder. The artworks contain the whole ghost net story, from where the net has travelled and what it has caught, to it where it has washed ashore and then been made into something beautiful by a saltwater person in whose country it was gathered.” 

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