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Ghost Net Totems

Pormpurraw Art & Culture Centre

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Ghost Net Woven Totems portraying the community’s connection and relationships to land and sea country and the sustainable response to waste in their waters.

A disaster is occurring in the seas of NE Australia caused by abandoned fishing nets from unethical fishing practices. Due to the currents, these nets are most prevalent in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait and near the Great Barrier Reef. They plague the ocean, destroying rich flourishing sea life, including many endangered species such as sea turtles. They also trap and kill sharks, sawfish, dolphins, whales, and many fish species. Made of plastic “ghost nets” are slow to degrade in the environment. As they drift they continue to catch and kill fish, eventually falling to the bottom of the sea where they suffocate life on coral reefs and the sea bed. They also degrade the beach environment when they are washed up along the coastline.  

The artists of Pormpuraaw use found ghost net to make art pieces that represent their totems. The women also use the net to create colourful baskets and dilly bags. In doing so, the artists are drawing attention to the environmental impact of these drifting nets upon our ocean. If the species of sea life which are important totems are destroyed, mythic tales connecting Indigenous people to country, ancestors, language, and cultural identity - the very foundation of Indigenous culture - will also ultimately be lost.  Sea Turtles are a big totem for all coastal people. Our people like to dig their eggs they lay in the sand of our beaches. we feel for this amazing totem getting caught in ghost nets. Ghost Nets are commercial fishing nets legally abandoned into the ocean. Here they drift on the currents killing fish and animals without purpose. It is a most vial form of pollution.

Studio Photography: Photo Corner

Location Photography: Lovegreen Photography

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