Two large drifting nets recovered
On 15 April a Coastwatch aircraft reported a large fishing net drifting to the west of Torres Strait, inside the Australian EEZ. A Customs Bay Class vessel attended the scene, however on inspection they found that there were two nets, both of which were far too large for them to recover.
The nets contained a large number of turtles and sharks. Border Protection Command requested assistance from RCC Australia to recover the nets due to the potential risk posed to ships navigating the western approaches to Torres Strait. (Last month a large vessel was disabled in Torres Strait with propeller damage due to net entanglement.)
AMSA tasked the Emergency Towage Vessel Pacific Responder to recover the nets and the crew spent two full days on the task.The nets had a combined length of 7 nautical miles (approx 13km). Marine life found in the net by the crew numbered 312 fish including whaler & hammerhead sharks, spotted, shark and Spanish mackerel, barracuda, tuna and sailfish. 3 Stokes sea snakes and 4 turtles were also caught up in the net (two of which we were able to be released).
The nets were delivered to Weipa where they were received by an Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) contractor for disposal.