'SHOCKED': Thousands of dead fish wash up without answers
A COUPLE'S holiday to Bundaberg turned smelly after they found "tens of thousands" of dead fish washed ashore.
Greg and Helen Page, from Beaudesert, were camping at Norval Park Beach last week when they noticed something fishy.
"On Tuesday we saw four trawlers going up and down the beach," Mr Page said.
"We didn't think too much of it until the next day."
The pair walked about 8kms along the beach on low tide and found a range of dead fish.
"Every step there was one or two dead fish," Mr Page said.
"Not a good look for tourism at all."
He said among the dead were baby blue salmon, tailor, bream, whiting, jew and dart fish.
"My wife and I were shocked and dismayed to see the results of four fishing trawlers just off the beach," he said.
As a recreational fisher Mr Page said he spent the week fishing and did not catch a single fish.
"Seeing these fish made me sick to my guts," Mr Page said.
"Assuming this happens frequently, it's astounding we still have a fishery."
The NewsMail shared the photos with a local fishing man who said some of the fish were of a decent sort and not all "rubbish" fish.
"It is unfortunate, but the way trawlers operate," he said.
"If they were just off shore it could have been prawn trawlers, as other trawlers sit further out."
Outraged by the find Mr Page has sent the photos to a number of departments including the local council and the Department of Fisheries.
A spokesperson told Mr Page the matter had been referred to the Queensland Boating and Fishing Patrol office at Bundaberg who would be investigating.
A Fisheries Queensland spokeswoman said the Queensland Department of Environment and Science had responsibility for investigating the death of aquatic animals, including large numbers of fish.
"While the dumping of fish frames is not an offence under the Fisheries Act 1994, it may constitute littering which is discouraged and could be a breach of local government laws," she said.
She said any catch of protected fish species can potentially affect populations where numbers were already low.
"There are no species listed as overfished that are commonly caught in the Bundaberg region," she said.
"Trawl operators are only allowed to take certain fish species; this prevents targeting of species that are taken in other fisheries (e.g. commercial and recreational line fisheries)."
The spokeswoman said bycatch could threaten some species if it was unregulated. However the trawl fishery in Queensland is well managed, and reduces the volume of bycatch through bycatch reduction devices, which are mandated under fisheries regulation.
Commercial fishers are required by law to have bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices in their nets to reduce bycatch and interactions with turtles. This has significantly reduced bycatch over the last decade with innovations in gear technology.