Reggie Sabatino, Ghost net gear bag, 2009
Torres Strait artist Reggie Sabatino has made these bags from ghost nets – large fishing nets abandoned at sea. The nets, originating mainly from South-East Asia, travel the world’s oceans indiscriminately entrapping and destroying everything in their path. They not only endanger threatened species, but also undersized and protected fish, rare turtles and large mammals. Many of the nets are carried by the tides and currents to the Gulf of Carpentaria and become trapped there until weather events deposit them on nearby coastlines.
In the Torres Strait, the Ghost Net Project has been established to develop alternative uses for discarded nets. Local sea rangers collect the nets and distribute them to artists who then use the durable textiles to make bags and soft sculptures. The recycled material is encouraging a weaving revival in the Torres Strait, with artists making traditional objects, as well as inventing new techniques and forms. Sympathetic to the environmental benefits of this art form, according to Reggie Sabatino: ‘I use ghost nets that wash up on the beach and in the mangroves to create bags to support the Ghost Nets of Australia Project’.