Clive Last found the dead dolphin and will be pleased to see an investigation is under way.
Clive Last found the dead dolphin and will be pleased to see an investigation is under way.

Net ban call after marine death

CALLS for a detailed investigation into marine animal deaths in Gladstone Harbour might finally have been answered.

For the past fortnight, The Observer has been demanding answers and a thorough investigation into the deaths, most recently following the death of two dugongs last week – one at the height of the Boyne Tannum HookUp when all eyes were on the region's waterways.

That followed the deaths of three dolphins during the past month and more than 22 turtles at the mouth of the Boyne River in April.

Late yesterday, State Environment Minister Kate Jones contacted The Observer and announced a new scientific panel to conduct a full investigation into the deaths.

Ms Jones also strongly indicated the 60-day ban on net fishing in the mouth of the Boyne River, which The Observer campaigned for in April, might continue beyond its expiry in two weeks.

“Since we've had the Interim Intervention Order in place, we haven't had any turtle deaths. So I think, given we had (approximately) 28 in a matter of weeks, that is a significant change,” she said.

“It's very compelling to me that since the ban has been in place there has been no turtle deaths and this is something I would consider in regards to what we do (after) the current (60-day ban) expires.”

The bizarre nature of the dolphin and dugong deaths will be closely examined by the scientific panel. Ms Jones said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service had informed her the animals were in good health prior to their deaths and necropsy results showed human interference as the most likely cause of death, principally boat strikes or netting.

The scientific panel will consist of QPWS staff, Department of Environment and Resource Management and independent marine scientists.

“I want to be confident that we do have the best scientific advice to make decisions about any potential risks,” Ms Jones said.

Ms Jones said evidence indicated pollution was not a factor in the deaths but, for community confidence, residents needed to hear it from independent scientists.

Marine Deaths:

  • In April, more that 22 dead turtles were found washed up at the mouth of the Boyne River, coinciding with an increase in net fishing and recreational fishing.
  • On May 1, Ms Jones announced a 60 ban on net fishing in the mouth of the Boyne River.
  • During May, 3 dead dolphins were found around the Harbour.
  • On Monday, a dead dugong was found followed by a second on Friday morning.


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