• Dave Harmon, PW editor

Australia | WWF buy of gillnet fishing license creates de facto no-take MPA near Great Barrier Reef

In 2017, a dugong washed ashore on a beach north of Townsville, Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef. The dead animal had scratch marks on its belly and back, and there were also cuts around its fluked tail. Experts said the dugong, which is a protected species in Australia, had probably gotten caught in a commercial fishing net.

This certainly isn’t the only dugong (Dugong dugon) to die in the clutches of a net. While fishers have only reported 12 dugong deaths during commercial operations between 2006 and 2012, reports from independent observers suggest that an estimated 422 actually died during this period, the conservation group WWF-Australia said. Overall, fishers are “massively underreporting” the deaths of protected species like dugongs, as well as dolphins and turtles, the NGO said.

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