Fishers told to tidy up waters
CRABBERS in the North’s estuaries are being warned not to abandon or illegally tamper with fishing equipment after almost 150 pots were seized by the State Government.
A total of 144 unattended and abandoned crab pots were removed from the Hinchinbrook Channel during a recent three- day operation by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol. QBFP district officer Rob Ibell said abandoned fishing gear was a growing environmental issue, with the numbers of pots being recovered on the rise.
Mr Ibell said some of the pots found had been reported stolen while others were returned to their rightful owners.
“Most of the equipment, however, was quite obviously abandoned or lost but was still catching fish and crabs,” Mr Ibell said.
“This is referred to as ‘ ghost fishing’ – the term for lost or abandoned fishing gear that continues to catch fish and other wildlife and it’s a major environmental problem.
“Fishers need to make sure they remove their gear from the water when they’ve finished fishing so it doesn’t un- necessarily entrap, injure wildlife.”
Mr Ibell said lost fishing gear – particularly pots and nets – also presented a safety issue for boats.
Hinchinbrook Shire Councillor Wally Skinner said the marine systems around the Hinchinbrook Channel were critical to council’s recreation and tourism focus and keeping them clean was a concern.
“There is no doubt it’s one the premier fishing spots in Queensland and … I can only commend the department for this initiative to improve the health and usability of our waterways,” Cr Skinner said.
“Unfortunately, many of the pots that have been found have probably been interfered with by crocodiles. Crocodile numbers continue to grow and their proliferation poses a genuine concern for boaties and fishers.”
Mr Ibell said it was important fishers correctly marked their pots so lost gear could be identified.
“Many of the pots collected were unmarked so can’t be returned to their owners,” he said.
“Crab pots and dillies must be marked by an identifying tag bearing the surname and address of the owner.”
To report suspected lost or abandoned gear and gear obstructing waterways, contact Fishwatch on 1800 017 116.