Dugongs die in Repulse Creek

THE recent death of two dugong in the vicinity of Repulse Creek could have been avoided if fishermen in the area had followed the law.

That’s the view of Sunfish Mackay president Lance Murray who said two dugong were reported to have drowned after becoming tangled in a fishing net on Friday, February 5.

Repulse Creek is near Conway.

He said that as dugong live for about 50 years but only have about three offspring, any death is a tragedy, particularly if it could have been avoided.

And he was left in no doubt that in this case not only could the deaths have been avoided, they would have been if the fishermen who cast the net had have been attending it – a requirement under the Fisheries Act.

“There’s no doubt that this was an accidental drowning but the point is it never would have happened if someone was in attendance to the net,” Mr Murray said.

“There’s a reason for the law and that is that if protected species, such as dugong, turtles and porpoise get caught in a net they can be released.

“That clearly wasn’t done in these circumstances.”

Mr Murray said another reason for tragedies such as the two drowned dugong was an attitude in the fishing industry that ensured a blanket of silence was thrown over every faux pas.

“People turn a blind eye to everything,” Mr Murray said.

“No one likes to see dugong drowned so when they do their attitude is ‘those bastards’ but then they turn around and drive off.”

Mr Murray said a good example of this was a recent campaign to stamp out crab pot tampering.

The Sunfish president estimated that half a dozen crab pots were interfered with every weekend but said there were just six reports of the offence over the 18 month period the campaign ran for.

“It’s a big problem in the fishing industry,” he said.

“The attitude is that it’s all too hard.”


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