TEAM CLEAN: Michael Whelan, Mark Huston, Tony Young and Sean Roll; with the ghost neT salvaged from Hook Passage.
TEAM CLEAN: Michael Whelan, Mark Huston, Tony Young and Sean Roll; with the ghost neT salvaged from Hook Passage.

Ghosts haunt the Whitsunday waters

A NOT so perfect 25m catch was bagged by the crew at Red Cat Adventures last Thursday.

The huge fishing net was salvaged from the ocean in the middle of Hook Passage.

Thunder Cat skipper Mark Huston noticed the net while crossing the passage last Thursday on a tourist charter.

"We could see the floats on top of it and detoured over - it was a lot bigger than we thought it was,” he said.

At 25m, the heavy-duty net weighed more than 100kg and was loaded onto the boat by the crew and a helpful passenger.

The ghost net onboard the Thunder Cat after being salvaged by crew and a passenger.
The ghost net onboard the Thunder Cat after being salvaged by crew and a passenger.

"We dropped it on the beach at Tongue Bay as it was too heavy to travel with,” Mr Huston said.

The skipper notified Marine Parks, which collected and disposed of it.

"There was a baby turtle who swum away as we pulled the net up, that would have died.”

Mr Huston said the net spanned the entire depth of the passage and proved difficult to remove.

"They have the potential to rip the engines off and are quite a shipping hazard. We always make an effort to detour and pick up any rubbish,” Mr Huston said.

Owner of Red Cat Adventures and ex-Australian customs and border protection marine officer Asher Telford said finds like these were unfortunately common.

Mr Telford said ghost nets were hazardous marine debris that appeared as reefs to sea life, which become trapped and injured in the nets.

He said there were three main ways fishing nets became ghost nets - they become redundant to the vessel, were cut free after becoming caught or were washed off deck in rough weather.

Mr Telford said illegal fishing crews entering Australian waters to catch sharks and big-ticket fish often cut the lines loose to avoid being caught.

Nets of domestic fishing vessels could also become "snagged” and couldn't easily be set free so they would "drop the net”.

He said it was in everyone's best interests to look after the ocean, not only for marine life but the nets could catch on outboards and cause power outages.


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