Rescuer wants tougher angler laws after bird deaths
A PROMINENT Gold Coast wildlife rescuer wants the Department of Fisheries to cut the number of lines anglers can rig up after a spate of bird deaths.
Rowley Goonan, of Gold Coast Bird Rescues, says he is "angry and frustrated" that fishermen are still leaving lines unattended.
Despite his best efforts to save them, Mr Goonan says he has had an above average amount of birds die this year after becoming hooked and entangled.
"I'm just getting swan after swan after swan with hooks in their knees and their throats," he said.
"There's no way to repair that stuff. If they get hooked in the knee or on a joint … it does internal damage. It's not salvageable."
Recently, a pelican rescued at Jacobs Well was put down after a hole the size of a teacup was found in its wing. It was caused by a hook pulling through the muscle tissue.
Mr Goonan said he was penning a letter to the Department of Fisheries demanding a change to the amount of lines anglers can have in the water at any one time. He is also pushing for more education.
"Currently you can have up to six lines going (in freshwater) and be up to 50m away from these lines," he said.
"My view is that there should be a maximum of two. You should be within grabbing distance.
"That is more than enough to enjoy the sport."
On saltwater, fishermen can have up to three lines out at a time. Mr Goonan would like that reduced to two as well.
He also called for better education, saying an annual brochure from the department did not address the issue of wildlife injuries.
He hoped the department would write up a dedicated section to educating anglers in time for its 2020 issue.
"Fishermen need to be taught not to cast out among water birds," he said.
"They just hook the creature and don't call for help. Don't just cut the line and let it swim away. In most cases, they know damn well they've hooked a bird."
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital head vet Dr Michael Pyne said while education and awareness was key to reducing excess lines, feeding wild birds was also a big problem.
"They learn to take food from people and can't tell the difference between someone throwing a line or throwing food," he said.
"The birds that are captured are just the tip of the iceberg, there's a lot more out there dying from horrible deaths that we don't know about."