Journal of Environmental Management

Volume 123, In Progress (15 July 2013)

J.R.A. Butler, R. Gunn, H.L. Berry, G.A. Wagey, B.D. Hardesty, C. Wilcox, A Value Chain Analysis of ghost nets in the Arafura Sea: Identifying trans-boundary stakeholders, intervention points and livelihood trade-offs, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 123, 15 July 2013, Pages 14-25, ISSN 0301-4797, 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.03.008.
Abstract: Lost or discarded fishing nets are a significant component of marine debris which has trans-boundary impacts in large marine ecosystems. Such ‘ghost nets’ cause the by-catch of marine fauna and require retrieval from coastlines where they wash up. Identifying the causes of discarded nets and feasible intervention points requires analysis of a complex value chain and the stakeholders within it, yet no studies have attempted this. In this paper we combine Value Chain Analysis, commonly applied to understand value-adding for a commodity, with elements of Life Cycle Assessment and social network analysis to examine the drivers, stakeholders, economic, environmental and social costs and benefits in the life of a trawl net. We use the Arafura Sea as a case study, which is shared by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, and is the focus of a Trans-boundary Diagnostic Assessment (TDA) within the Arafura–Timor Seas Ecosystem Action program (ATSEA). We follow a trawl net through four sub-systems: manufacture of webbing in South Korea, fishing and loss by an Indonesian vessel, retrieval as ghost net on the northern Australian coastline by Indigenous rangers, and disposal or re-cycling as ‘GhostNet Art’ by Indigenous artists. Primary stakeholders along the value chain incur economic and social benefits, and economic and environmental costs. There is an anomaly in the chain between Indonesian fishermen and Indigenous rangers, artists and communities due to the lack of market linkages between these primary stakeholders. The first ‘nexus of influence’ where reductions in net losses and environmental costs can be achieved is through interactions between GhostNets Australia, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Australian Government, which can influence Indonesian fishery management institutions and fishing crews. The second nexus is via the international art market which by publicising GhostNet Art can raise awareness amongst fish consumers about the impacts of ghost nets, and hence influence Indonesian fishing companies. GhostNets Australia is a key bridging organisation in the network, linking stakeholders across scales and sub-systems. Feasible preventative interventions are discussed to rectify the anomaly in the value chain. The importance of GhostNets Australia and ATSEA in the evolving adaptive co-management and trans-boundary governance of fisheries is highlighted. However, the prevention of ghost nets will result in trade-offs in benefits for the livelihoods of primary stakeholders. The utility of the method for analysing marine debris in TDAs, and ATSEA in particular, is discussed.
Keywords: Adaptive co-management; Indigenous rangers; Life Cycle Assessment; Marine debris; Social networks; Trans-boundary Diagnostic Assessment