20 September 2023

Tangaroa Blue project retrieves its first destructive fishing gear near Weipa

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Pictured is two people on a boat deck with a large commercial fishing net laid out in front of them.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Project Recon retrieved its first ghost gear near Weipa this month.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Project ReCon has tracked and retrieved its first destructive ghost gear four kilometres off the coast from Weipa using satellite technology.

With the support of Satlink, the Project ReCon team is repurposing echo sounder buoys found on their clean ups to track and monitor discarded commercial fishing gear while retrieval teams are mobilised.

“This is Project ReCon in action, turning waste into effective tracking equipment and deploying it to help reduce the impact discarded commercial fishing has on our marine environment,” Tangaroa Blue Foundation CEO Heidi Tait said.

Senior Border Force Officer Kim Hockey, from ABF’s Weipa District Office, said that the ABF was excited and pleased to be able to assist Tangaroa Blue.

“Here in Weipa, the ABF and Tangaroa Blue have developed a close working relationship as we collaborate in this space to improve the health and safety of Australia’s marine environment.”

Tangaroa Blue Foundation worked closely with Satlink as well as Indigenous rangers, the Australian Border Force and Capricornia Contracting in tracking and retrieving the gear found near Weipa.

“Through Tangaroa Blue Foundation we’re building on the strengths of local communities, the government agencies that are involved, as well as Indigenous rangers in the area where the buoys are being recovered and re-used, while on Satlink’s end a huge part of the fishing industry has come on board and is involved in the project,” Satlink’s Head of Science & Sustainability Kathryn Gavira said.

“We are so proud to see yet another achievement for this fantastic collaboration, and we look forward to more ghost hear being recovered,” she said.

Since its launch in December last year, more than 83 vessels and 21 tuna companies from around the world have become part of Project ReCon.

“Project ReCon represents the way forward for sustainability in tuna fishing, and for environmental projects in general,” she said.

Pictured is the edge of a boat on the open ocean. Two people are on the boat, one is sitting down while the other on the edge is next to a piece of machinery that seems to be lowering into the ocean. Next to them is three people on a small yellow dinghy.

In partnership with Satlink, local governments, communities and Indgenous rangers, Project ReCon will continue to track and remove destructive commercial fishing gear from the marine environment.

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