A FISHERMAN was caught redhanded at the Cooya Beach boat ramp last week with a large Humphead Maori Wrasse hidden inside the cabin of his boat.
The Port Douglas patrol officers from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol found the large fish while they were conducting a routine patrol of Cooya Beach boat ramp about 7.30pm last Thursday.
The fisherman’s vessel carrying the 1.2m wrasse, weighing 35kg, was returning from a fishing trip on Tongue Reef off Port Douglas.
“Humphead Maori Wrasse is an iconic reef species found throughout Asia-Pacific,” a spokesman from Fisheries Queensland said.
“They have a high commercial value and as such, are vulnerable to significant fishing pressure.
“In recognition of this,
eco-warriors who took on the Japanese whaling fleet have a new threat in their sights - cruelty against dugongs.
The Sea Shepherd environmental group, which earlier this month declared victory against the Japanese, have said they may head to North Queensland to tackle the illegal and inhumane hunting of the endangered dugong population.
When they get here, they may run into an old friend, Peter Bethune.
Mr Bethune was a Sea Shepherd skipper at the helm of their futuristic “stealth boat” the Ady Gill when it collided with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean last year.
The collision destroyed the multi-million dollar Ady Gill, and Mr Bethune later spent several months in prison in Japan for boarding the Japanese whaling vessel and attempting to arrest the skipper.
Sea Shepherd’s Australian spokesman Jeff Hansen confirmed the society was now considering joining the campaign to protect the Far North’s endangered dugong population from illegal hunting.
"It’s definitely something that we’re looking at. It’s on our radar," Mr Hansen said.
The Australian director of Mr Bethune’s newly formed Ecorace Conservation Organisation, Michael Dalton, said the New Zealander would speak to local stakeholders to determine what he could do to help protect dugongs and sea turtles.
“We’ll be talking to Bob Irwin as well to see what we can do from a new conservation group’s point of view to help out and get our weight behind it,” Mr Dalton said.
The news comes as yet another dugong was found washed up on a far northern beach earlier this month.
Gotcha: Warren Egling with the maori wrasse he seized from a fifi sherman’s boat