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© Howard Hall productions

Net-Free North

Help create one of the largest havens for Australia’s dugongs and marine wildlife in the northern Great Barrier Reef.

Net-Free North © Howard Hall Productions

Help create one of the world’s largest havens for Australia’s dugongs.


The northern Great Barrier Reef is an incredible underwater ecosystem and home to one of the largest dugong populations in the world, where these gentle giants feed on rich seagrass meadows.

But there’s a deadly catch.

Dugongs are being threatened by commercial gill net fishing in their critical habitat. These deadly nets hang like lethal curtains across the seabed, where vulnerable marine wildlife can get entangled and drown within minutes.

This method of fishing is unsustainable in the pristine waters of the northern Great Barrier Reef and must be stopped. Help us petition the Queensland Government to change legislation and create a Net-Free North.

Last year, our amazing supporters helped remove one of the last commercial gill nets from this important dugong habitat. But there are still 240 active gill net licences held along Queensland's east coast that can move in and start fishing in this precious area.

The good news is - we have a rare opportunity to make a difference! The Queensland Government is currently undertaking a review of fishing practices.

This is a chance for us to create one of the world’s largest dugong havens and largest net-free zone on the Great Barrier Reef - an 85,000 km2 refuge for dugongs and other precious marine wildlife to flourish.

We need as many voices as possible. Add your name to show your support!


Together, we can create a #NetFreeNorth.

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How long is a 600 m gill net?

‘Gill netting’ is a common commercial fishing method that uses long rectangular nets which are held vertically in the water with floats and weighted to the ocean floor.

Their diamond-shaped mesh effectively catches fish that swim into the nets, where they become trapped and entangled by their gills. Devastatingly, the use of gill nets commonly results in bycatch.

Many endangered species like dugongs, dolphins, turtles and sawfish get trapped in these nets. As they struggle to break free, they become more entangled and can drown within minutes.

A 600m gill net hangs like a lethal curtain in the ocean © WWF-Aus / Jessica Macleod

One net out, many more to go.

Thanks to our amazing supporters, in 2018 we were able to purchase the last full-time commercial gill net from Princess Charlotte Bay on the northern Great Barrier Reef. It was the first step in the journey to creating a Net-Free North.

However, the current laws don’t stop any of the existing 240 commercial gill nets on the east coast from relocating to this area. There’s still a huge risk that these deadly nets will make their way into important dugong habitat and put our marine life in jeopardy.

We still have a long way to go to create a permanent refuge for Australia’s beautiful dugongs.
Close up of what was the last full-time commercial gill net retrieved from Princess Charlotte Bay in Far North Queensland © WWF-Aus / Leonie Sii

A safe haven the size of Tasmania

The time to advocate for a net-free zone is now. We want to create the largest net-free area on the Great Barrier Reef so that our marine species can thrive and have a safe place to call home.

We’re asking the government to establish an 85,000 km2 refuge - an area roughly the size of Tasmania. But we can’t do it alone.

Together, we have the power to create a #NetFreeNorth for Australia’s dugongs and marine animals.
A variety of fish swimming, Osprey Reef, Coral Sea © Darren Jew

© Darren Jew

Help save our marine life

Donate to protect our oceans

Your generous support today will help create the largest net-free area on the Great Barrier Reef- 85,000 kilometres from Cooktown to the Torres Strait