Public donations have enabled WWF-Australia to protect dugongs by removing the last commercial gill net still operating full time in Far North Queensland.
Nearly three thousand people dug deep to raise the six-figure sum needed to purchase the commercial fishing licence which will now be retired, along with the 600-metre long gill net.
Dugongs can easily drown in gill nets and the far northern end of the Great Barrier Reef is home to one of the world’s most important dugong populations.
Other threatened species such as snubfin dolphins, marine turtles, sawfish, hammerhead sharks and the critically endangered Bizant River shark will also be safer with the net gone.
“We’ve raised the funds and signed an agreement with the fisherman who owns the licence. It’s a great deal for dugongs, so we want to say thank you to everyone who contributed funds to remove this net,” said WWF-Australia fisheries spokesperson Jim Higgs.
“WWF and our supporters have done the heavy lifting. We now call on the Queensland Government to stop other gill net operators from moving into the area by declaring a Net-Free North from Cape Flattery through to the Torres Strait.
“This would create one of the largest safe havens for dugongs in the world. It would cover 85,000-square kilometers, an area bigger than Tasmania,” he said.
Both parties have agreed to keep the terms of the agreement confidential.
WWF-Australia media contact:
Mark Symons, WWF-Australia Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571