Nets ‘threaten whale mi­gra­tion’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

MIGALOO the al­bino hump­back whale could eas­ily be caught in a gill-net around Snap­per Is­land, a re­port re­leased this week claims.

Migaloo has been seen in the vicin­ity of Snap­per Is­land for the past three years dur­ing the an­nual win­ter hump­back mi­gra­tion.

Gill-net fish­ing boats, which can de­ploy fish­ing nets up to 1.2km long, reg­u­larly drop their nets around Snap­per Is­land.

While the boats are tar­get­ing spawn­ing schools of grey mack­erel and other species of ma­rine fishes, they have been im­pli­cated in the deaths of sev­eral dugong in the lo­cal area.The re­port from the Net­work for Sus­tain­able Fish­ing, re­leased on Mon­day, is an ex­haus­tive study of fish­eries off from Cook­town to Rock­hamp­ton.

“Migaloo (has been) seen three years run­ning at Snap­per Is­land as he passes through these wa­ters dur­ing the grey mack­erel sea­son,” the re­port’s edi­tor David Cook says.

“He could eas­ily be­come en­trapped in a 1.2km fish­ing net within World Her­itage wa­ters.”

Mr Cook said the reef fish­eries ap­peared healthy, in con­trast to the in­shore fish­eries, which he claimed were be­ing un­sus­tain­ably fished by gill­net boats.

“We are los­ing our breed­ing schools of king salmon, queen­fish, grunter, finger­mark and now it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to catch a bar­ra­mundi big enough to keep,” Mr Cook said.

A dugong which washed ashore at Peb­bly Beach south of Port Dou­glas is the most re­cent lo­cal fa­tal­ity at­trib­uted to net boats.

Last April, a dugong was found float­ing off Snap­per Is­land with bruises con­sis­tent with a gill-net.

The owner of the Cairns-based boat which had been fish­ing the area for the pre­vi­ous three days de­nied he had been re­spon­si­ble for the an­i­mal’s death.

Un­der threat: Migaloo the al­bino hump­back whale is at risk of be­ing caught in gill nets

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