Fisherman watches $50,000 catch die
By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
IT WAS all line fisherman Lance Heywood could do 'just standing here watching my fish die'.
Mr Heywood was just one of the fishermen immediately affected by Tuesday night's oil spill, but the long-term effects could wipe out the prawn industry for at least the next year and cost the seafood industry millions.
He said he was trapped in Gladstone Marina with a coral trout catch worth more than $50,000 when the oil breached the boom on Wednesday afternoon, leaking into the marina.
The tanks filled with 1500 live coral trout were pumping in fresh sea water but soon became contaminated with oil. 'There was nowhere I could go,' Mr Heywood said.
'What can you do? I'm just standing here watching my fish die.'
The fish, destined for Hong Kong at the peak time of Chinese New Year, started dying within a few hours.
At least 100 fish had died yesterday "and they just keep dropping and dropping''.
Mr Heywood believed his chance of selling the remaining catch was slim and expected the loss of the $50,000 catch to be added to $25,000 in operating costs and another $7000 in refitting the contaminated tanks and pipes.
Boaties in the marina over Wednesday night were also badly affected.
Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Captain John Watkinson said the protective boom across the Auckland Creek entrance collapsed in a violent storm at 11.30pm last night, al-lowing oil to flow into the marina.
However boaties, such as Robert McDonald, believed a fishing boat breached the boom.
'Everyone is talking about how a trawler boat steamed straight through it and claimed not to have seen it ? it definitely happened,' Mr McDonald said.
Disabled pensioner Dawn Larosa's boat was one of the worst affected.
Ms Larosa spends most of the year on the boat with her dog Kipper and the boat had only recently been returned to the water.
Now her boat's anti-fouling, which acts as a protective barrier to the boat, needs to be replaced.
Boaties had been told to send letters requesting compensation to coal carrier Global Peace's insurance company.