Nets ‘threaten whale migration’
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