Call for inquiry as hundreds of dead fish wash up on beach
BURNETT MP Stephen Bennett is calling for an investigation into the fishing practices of trawlers off the coastline after hundreds of dead fish washed up between Bargara and Burnett Heads.
Residents reported sighting hundreds of dead fish lining the beach in front of Mon Repos Turtle Rookery on Monday and a small amount still remained there on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said the site had been inspected and the dead fish were identified as puffer fish.
"The fish are likely to have washed up on the beach as trawler by-catch," he said.
"There was a similar incident of fish deaths last week which was also thought to be the result of trawler by-catch."
Mr Bennett said he was outraged by the problem.
"It's disgraceful," he said. "I will be asking the local fisheries department to look into this.
"Fish kills on this scale are unacceptable."
Mr Bennett said there was extra trawling activity at the moment.
"There is a lot of trawling activity off the coast and we did open things up to trawlers north of the Burnett River to Rules Beach temporarily because the industry was on its knees after the floods."
"As a result of that we are seeing increased activity off the coast. I think we do need to be a little bit concerned about this though."
Mr Bennett said while the fish may not be edible, there was no excuse for so many turning up dead.
"There is a cost to the environment," he said. "They still have a role to play in the ecosystem."
Mr Bennett said he would be making further inquiries.
"We have to make the assumption that it is by-catch," he said. "I will take a personal interest in finding a more tangible explanation."