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Author Topic: Fishing industry and Government act to protect turtles in the Boyne River  (Read 3407 times)

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Environment and Resource Management
The Honourable Kate Jones
Monday, May 02, 2011

Fishing industry and Government act to protect turtles in the Boyne River

A two-month emergency ban on all net fishing near the mouth of the Boyne River has been put in place to prevent further green turtle deaths.

Environment Minister Kate Jones said she has issued an interim conservation order (ICO) under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, aimed at protecting the vulnerable green turtle following the death of 22 turtles in the Boyne River in the past few weeks.

“This 60 day ban is aimed at stopping further deaths of the turtle in this region,” Ms Jones said.

“Almost 20,000 barramundi recently washing over the Awoonga Dam spillway and have been moving along the Boyne River system.

“Several commercial net fishers have been targeting these fish and setting nets at the river mouth.

“Investigations to date suggest this activity may have been the cause of the high number of turtle fatalities.

“I want to thank the commercial fishing industry for their support for this ban.

“We will be working closely with industry to identify the direct cause and consider ways to address this problem.”

Ms Jones said the interim conservation order prohibits all netting of fish in the Boyne River and within 1km of the river mouth for the next two months.

The interim conservation order effectively extends the current closure in the Boyne River that was due to conclude on 1 May, and establishes an additional closure seaward of the river mouth.

“Observations over recent weeks have confirmed that turtles are being caught in fishing nets and subsequently released,” she said.

“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) officers and locals had reported a number of live turtles being released from these nets. However, while released alive their ability to survive can be greatly reduced and that is why we need to address this issue.

“QPWS has been working with DEEDI, fishers and the industry’s peak body the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) to identify alternative netting strategies, including modification of netting techniques and increasing the frequency of net inspections.

“Unfortunately these modifications would not have effectively removed the risk to green turtles at this stage, and the temporary emergency closure will provide an opportunity for further work to be done.

“During the closure period QPWS, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and QSIA will undertake a thorough investigation with local fishers to determine underlying causes and strategies required to prevent a repeat of this unfortunate event.

“The QSIA recognises the need to act and supports the temporary emergency closure to prevent further turtle deaths.

“I appreciate the professional and cooperative approach taken by the QSIA to this serious incident,” Ms Jones said.

Ms Jones said the 60-day suspension on netting activity would allow for the barramundi to disperse through the system and reduce the exposure of green turtles to the concentrated netting effort that has occurred at the mouth of the river.

“QPWS rangers will be conducting increased patrols of the area, and they will work alongside Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers to inform the affected fishers and ensure compliance,” Ms Jones said.

The maximum penalty for contravening an Interim Conservation Order is $300,000 or two years’ imprisonment.

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