A record-breaking number of illegal crab pots have been removed from Pumicestone Passage as part of a 3-day joint clean-up operation by marine park rangers and fisheries officers.
In late May, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol Officers removed 195 derelict or illegal crab pots from the Pumicestone Passage section of the Moreton Bay Marine Park.
QPWS Senior Ranger Mike Carr said derelict crab pots are a massive issue for our marine wildlife species as they can continue to “ghost fish” for years and can entrap all sorts of other marine species.
“Last year, at least 42 turtles were reported to have been tangled or entrapped in crab pots in the Moreton Bay Marine Park,” Mr Carr said.
“Unfortunately, most of those turtles did not survive.
“Other marine animals such as dugong, dolphins and whales can also become entangled in crab pot float lines.”
Mr Carr said the remains of a turtle, cormorant and a shovelnose shark were found in the derelict pots recovered from the Pumicestone Passage.
“Thankfully, the teams were able to successfully release many animals such as fish, crabs and wobbegong sharks that were found alive trapped in the pots.”
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol District Officer Tom Richards said fishers are urged to crab responsibly when out on the water.
“Check crab pots regularly and remove them from the water when they are not being used,” Mr Richards said.
“Make sure crab pots are heavy enough with the correct length of rope attached to the float to prevent them from being lost or dragged underwater in strong currents, and that the pots and floats are correctly labelled.
“We also recommend pots are fitted with escape hatches and are kept submerged to prevent birds and other wildlife from being accidentally captured.
“This also ensures marine species caught in the pots, including female and undersized crabs, are not exposed to sun and can be released alive.”
Anyone who comes across entangled, stranded, injured, or deceased marine animals should immediately report it to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service by calling 1300 130 372.
People who see an unmarked, lost, or abandoned crab pot should record an accurate location or GPS coordinates of the equipment and report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.