Fishers’ handling tips protect aquatic animals

Fisheries Qld
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Commercial fishers are sharing their knowledge on safe handling of aquatic animals to reduce injury to animals and fishers through an educational YouTube video series.

Fisheries Queensland officer Elise McKinna said the videos were produced by Fisheries Queensland with the help of commercial fishers.

'Commercial fishers occasionally interact with non-target marine animals that are potentially dangerous, especially if mishandled,' Ms McKinna said.

'Our commercial fishing industry has long been proactive in implementing best handling techniques, and will now be able to share these skills with new fishers.

'The video series shows ways of releasing animals so that their chance of survival is increased, and also reduces risk of injury to fishers from a wayward tail or bite.

'The animals featured include sharks, rays, sea turtles, freshwater turtles and sea snakes.

'All of these animals are species of conservation interest, so we need to reduce possible impact on them from human interaction should they get caught in fishing gear.

'There are plenty of misconceptions about some of these animals, which perhaps make people a bit complacent when dealing with them.

'For example, sea turtles of all sizes can inflict painful bites due to their incredibly powerful jaws, and sea snakes are highly venomous like their land-based cousins.

'Injury to the animal and fisher can be easily avoided by following the handling steps outlined in the videos.

'The videos also include tips on how to help a distressed animal, such as putting a turtle into a coma recovery position.

'They are steps that not just commercial fishers but also recreational fishers can use should they encounter these animals.

'The videos are a useful, practical resource, having been put together through real-life experiences and suggestions from commercial fishers.'

Ms McKinna said commercial fishers in Queensland have implemented a number of practices that have seen their interaction with these species significantly reduced over the years.

'Trawlers are now fitted with turtle exclusion devices to allow turtles and large animals such as sharks and rays to easily escape nets,' she said.

'However, given they operate in a wild environment, there’s always the chance a fisher will encounter these sorts of animals, so knowing how to safely release them is crucial.'

The videos were produced through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program.

To view the videos and provide feedback, visit www.youtube.com/fisheriesqld

Follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesQld).