A Remote Camera Near An Australian No-Take Zone Snaps Photos Of Illegal Snapper Fishers

Source: Hakai Magazine/Chris Baraniuk 

Photo: Thomas Jack Oxley/Wikimedia Commons

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From April 2017 to March 2018, scientists kept a video camera trained on Seal Rocks in the Port Stephens—Great Lakes Marine Park, off the New South Wales coast in Australia. The site is a strict no-take zone, yet the captured footage showed boats fishing and lingering in the area. David Harasti, a marine biologist at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, says that as he watched the data come in his jaw dropped.

The presence of illegal fishers wasn’t unexpected, but their numbers were. “The average of nine boats per month? We were very surprised,” Harasti says.

Some boats would loiter in the area for up to six hours—a clear sign that they weren’t too worried about being caught, he adds.

But they should’ve been. Harasti and his colleagues made the camera’s footage available to fisheries compliance officers, who could check it on their phones or tablets. “The use of the camera has helped with several interceptions of illegal fishing vessels,” Harasti says. The team also analyzed the data, calculating when illegal fishing is most likely to occur. This information helped law enforcement set up targeted operations.

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Photo: Thomas Jack Oxley/Wikimedia Commons

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