Navy recovers fishing net from reef

Published on Department of Defence (author), ABCIS Peta Binns (photographer)

Location(s): Cairns, QLD

Topic(s): Illegal fishing

A fifty metre ghost net, recovered from a reef by HMAS Wollongong, is offloaded alongside in Cairns. (photo: ABCIS Peta Binns)
A fifty metre ghost net, recovered from a reef by HMAS Wollongong, is offloaded alongside in Cairns.

Ghost netting is a menace to both marine life and shipping so when the crew of the Royal Australian Navy Armidale class Patrol Boat HMAS Wollongong got the call to check out a sighting, they didn’t hesitate.

The net was first spotted by an aircraft with Maritime Border Command, snagged on a reef off Willis Islets in the Coral Sea east of Cairns.

HMAS Wollongong Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Aaron Norley says his crew hauled in about 50 metres of heavy line.

“Fortunately, apart from a few crabs and oysters, no other marine life had been caught up in it,” he said.

“We couldn’t tell where the net had come from but we managed to get it all in one go and bring it back to shore.”

The net was offloaded by a crane at HMAS Cairns for inspection and disposal by Australian Fisheries Management Authorities.