Commercial fishers urged to lookout for dugongs and turtles

Published Tuesday, 18 February, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Honourable John McVeigh

Fishers are being urged to look out for turtles and dugongs feeding on seagrass beds at Wunjunga at Upstart Bay, south of Ayr.

Local commercial fishers have contacted their peak body–the Queensland Seafood Industry Association–to call on all operators to be aware of the animals when choosing times and places to put nets out.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said it was encouraging that commercial fishers were using their networks to alert others to the movement of protected species, to reduce the chance of net entanglement.

“With the commercial fishing season gearing up in many locations, we are urging fishers to avoid the area until the animals move on,” Mr McVeigh.

“For the first time in years, large numbers of dugongs and up to 100 turtles have been seen feeding at the Wunjunga seagrass beds off Home Hill Beach.

“Dugongs are a species of conservation interest, so if any fishers do interact with them they must legally report it to Fisheries Queensland.”

Queensland Seafood Industry Association Chair Karen Collard said it is common to see these animals at this time of the year and it’s something fishers always need to be on the lookout for.

“It’s a commercial fisher’s responsibility to minimise the impact of their operations on other marine animals and it is a responsibility we take very seriously,” Mrs Collard said.

“Queensland’s reputation as having sustainably managed fisheries, and our access to world markets, is dependent on fishers meeting conservation standards.”

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardians program manager Randall Owens said this was a great example of responsible reef practices.

“Commercial fishers making the effort to alert others to reduce the risk to these iconic species clearly demonstrates care for the marine environment,” Mr Owens said.

[ENDS] 18 February 2014

Media Contact: Minister McVeigh: Lachlan Millar, 0407 394 580

                         QSIA: Karen Collard, Board Chair, 0400 115 318