Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Bycatch { Aftermath}; Rainbow Nets Catch and Kill Endangered Grey Nurses

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Bycatch { Aftermath}; Rainbow Nets Catch and Kill Endangered Grey Nurses

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Warhurst

A FREEDOM of information enquiry has uncovered sharks nets off Rainbow Beach have caught and killed endangered sharks, turtles and a host of other harmless marine life.

The reports obtained by Channel Seven News under the Freedom of Information act, recorded the amount of bycatch caught in the State's shark nets over the last five years.

They revealed shark nets across the State had been catching dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, turtles and the human-friendly and endangered grey nurse shark.

The nets at Rainbow Beach had been responsible for catching nearly all of the nine grey nurse sharks caught in that period as well as many of the 290 turtles caught off nesting sites at Rainbow Beach, Bundaberg and the Gold Coast.

Rainbow Beach nets have also caught 114 sharks measuring over two metres in length in the same period.

Kev Phillips from Wolf Rock Dive at Rainbow Beach says the amount of by catch caught in shark nets is excessive and says shark nets and drum lines have no place in a marine park.

Mr Phillips has been an advocate of the grey nurse shark for many years and takes diving tours in their main breeding ground at Wolf Rock off Double Island Point.

But it is just not the grey nurse shark that Mr Phillips is concerned about being caught in shark nets.

"Any amount of bycatch is excessive," Mr Philips said.

"Shark nets catch more harmless things like dugongs, dolphins and manta rays."

He said tourists pay big dollars to get up close and personal to manta rays.

"They are harmless and can grow to have a wingspan of seven metres.

"Dugongs are air-breathing animals, once they are caught in a net, they die pretty quickly."

"How can we justify having nets that can't distinguish between one animal and another," he said.

Mr Phillips can understand the State Government wanting to have nets protecting our beaches. …

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