|  First Published: March 2006

Jim Lee, QFM’s Hinchinbrook correspondent, has voiced his concerns via ABC Radio’s North Qld Fishtalk about the number of crab pots left lying around Hinchinbrook Island. He describes them as death traps, saying they continue to capture, and ultimately kill, endless sea creatures when left to rot in the ocean.

Unfortunately it is illegal for anyone but Boating and Fisheries officers to remove these pots. If a member of the public removes them they could be charged with interfering with another person’s crab pots, so they just lay there year after year. The lost pots set up a cycle of a crab, fish or shellfish dying in the pot from starvation, which then attracts another creature, and so the cycle continues. This is to say nothing of the unsightly mess seen at low tide around much of the picturesque Hinchinbrook Island.

I realised just how long this cycle can continue when we retrieved one of my pots on our annual Hinchinbrook trip that had been lost the year before. We couldn’t find the pot on that occasion, and like so many people in the same situation, had to return to port without it. Now this was a brand new $55 pot, so it wasn’t left behind on purpose!

The retrieved pot was still in perfect working order, though the frame was so rusty that it went to the dump once I got it home. The pot would have been continuing the death cycle whenever a creature went inside for shelter as it had built up a lot of weed and leaves, making an attractive hiding spot for fish, crabs and shellfish. There were at least another half dozen pots in the immediate vicinity that had old faded floats with slime all over the rope.

Boating and Fisheries are certainly stretched for resources and man power, but surely something can be done in conjunction with a fishing club or an organization such as Clean Up Australia so an officer could oversee a group involved in cleaning up the pots, or special permission could be granted for a clean up.

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