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Wednesday 10 October 2012

400kg whopper sparks debate

Gold Coast resident Cherekee Hill fought for over an hour-and-a-half to land a 400.5kg black marlin at Linden Bank on the outer reef off Port Douglas.

On returning to Port Douglas Marina yesterday morning, the 18 metre Cairns-based fishing vessel Mai Tai was greeted by dozens of onlookers who flocked to the boardwalk to catch a glimpse of the huge fish.

According to a Maitai crewman the marlin died 100m below the surface of the water.

While its sheer size impressed, many expressed a sense of sadness and questioned the practice of big game fishing.

"It's such as shame," said Paul, a tourist from Melbourne who was lured to take a closer look. "A few hours ago it was swimming in the ocean," he said.

Lisa Reddrop questioned how fishing of this nature differed from whaling, a practice widely condemned by Australians.

"It was such a big, beautiful creature," she said. "All that for five minutes of fame."

But according to Port Douglas Marlin Challenge tournament organiser, Lynton Heffer, big game fishing industry standards mean the majority of fish are being released back into the water in good health.

"There is no comparison (to whaling)," he said.

"The guys (big game fishers) are out there living and breathing it and can see what's going on. They're not out there to go and kill these fish. Sure they go out there and catch them, but the game fishing industry is the only one clued in to the sort of populations are out there.

And according to Mr Heffer there has been the biggest juvenile black marlin season since 1995.

"We've had a black marlin population explosion...People can't remember a season like that since the mid-90s."

What are your thoughts on big game fishing? Tell us below.

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Massive marlin landed

Have your say!

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Ryan Griffith, Hendra, 07-11-12 18:32:
The fish died 100m below the surface, becuase it would of suffered from fatigue and died, they tell that it was 100m away from the amount of line of the reel. The fish was not killed intentionally, my father knows the owner of Mai Tai and the owner said it was sad to see an animal like that die.

The reason they would of bought it back in was to weigh it becuase its not everday that some one cracks the 1000lb mark. Its a sport that people love doing, you cant save all fish but you can do the best you can do to save them.
mick dowling, port douglas, 31-10-12 10:59:
@ Daniel Stanilovic. If you lived in the area and fished it everyday like I do, you would see that fish numbers have been declining for a number of years. Some areas on the inner reef and estuaries are at critical point. I can tell you from doing fishing charters for many years that a lot of recreational fishermen are doing the wrong thing, more than you think. Almost everyday I see people taking under size fish, killing uneatable fish just for sick fun, leaving line and plastic bags and other rubbish at fishing spots. I would estimate that around 50% of fishermen I deal with just don't care. All they want to do is just kill as much as they can, and it sickens me. So you can come out with all your facts brought out by some pencil pusher, but I can tell you from experience that it's incorrect. Some fishing environments are in trouble and in these areas it is totally due to recreational fishing. And before you ask, I release around 95% of fish.
Annie Huntley, Julatten, 14-10-12 09:31:
This is barbaric and should be deemed a crime - the senseless slaughter of a magnificent marine animal, in the name of sport.
Damien Howe, Port Douglas, 14-10-12 08:25:
Rich people and there drive to dominate and gloat how great they are makes me sick. If you are such game experts you would have known how heavy this fish was, and cut it loose. There's no way in hell a fishing rod could bring up almost half of tone of dead weight 100 mm down. They should be fined, what an outrage.
Jules Jackson, Canberra, 12-10-12 21:47:
Very sad. Sport exists to pump males egos and replace testosterone. real men live and let live.
Greg Quinn, Port Douglas, 12-10-12 18:58:
Sometimes the price of democracy is that both sides of opposite positions get to be aired. But I find it amazing that some people support the killing of this animal. "It's only one fish" they say; "it's legal" they say; "it promotes fishing in the region" they say; "there are bigger threats to fish populations" they say; "it's dead now - lets weight it!" they say. But sometimes things happen in life that are just overly wrong, and the killing of this animal in the name of "sport" is one of them. And no amount of retrospective self-justifcation will change that. Thankfully the overwhelming groundswell of educated and uneducated comment on this sad event can see the tragedy in this, to the point where it will hopefully not happen again. Evil prevails when good people sit back and do nothing - thankfully good people are on the front foot in this case.
Damian Passlow, Port Douglas, 12-10-12 16:39:
Seriously did I miss something ?.

" The sugar you put in your café latte is having a far greater impact on this great species then recreational fishing"

"imagine what your coffee is doing to the species that only live close the stuff we do on our shores."
Daniel Stanilovic, Victoria, 12-10-12 14:27:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing in a dead fish, it’s legal to do so and regardless of the situation is the choice of the anglers. Recreational fishing has been at the fore front of promoting sustainable fishing and I am over people who have little understanding of the issue passing judgment on them for doing so.

Here are the facts

Almost everything we know about this species is due to the efforts of anglers

The Black Marlin population is in great shape.

Recreational fishing if far from the threat that is portrayed and promoted by our environmental groups.

The biggest threat to Black Marlin is there nursery area, the lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef that is being devastated by coastal development, run off from our terrestrial environment. The sugar you put in your café latte is having a far greater impact on this great species then recreational fishing, and in the case of the Black Marlin it’s a pelagic species imagine what your coffee is doing to the species that only live close the stuff we do on our shores.

A Fish of this age and size will be full of heavy metal’s because of what we do on our land not due to recreational fishing.

In this ever increasing online world, full of people that require no more than 3 sec to hit the like button in an attempt to somehow appease there conscious, armed with not even the basic information on the issue, these reactions are now even more common, but do very little in addressing the threats that species like this are facing, the danger in this brutal anti-fishing campaign that has been wagged foe some years now is that we are all being distracted from the real threats that our marine environment faces.

Have a look at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as an example, one of the oldest marine parks in this country, last year a snapper season a snapper ban was introduced in the area, and recently released report said that half the hard coral reef has died in the so called protected area. Minister Burke announced the jewel in the crown is the Coral Sea marine park, and that this area will now be full protected, full protected what a joke, the government and all the advocates all agree that recreational fishing is a very minor activity in the area, yet fishing was banned in some of these areas, while nothing has been done about the real threats to the area, from commercial shipping sound pollution, a known cause of whale stranding and major detrimental effect on their behaviour of many species, commercial shipping routes, in the last year we have had two commercial ships that suffered engine failure and if it wasn’t for pure luck would have ran aground on shallow reefs in the Coral Sea, have we all forgotten the images of the ship stuck on the reef of the GBR in 2010, what about the treat from our terrestrial development, not one single Australian environmental NGO mentioned any of these threats in there submissions to the coral sea marine park proposal, they all when to great length to talk about the threats of fishing, which again they all agree is not a huge activity in the area, Minister Burke has come out and said that these marine parks will not affect the average recreational anglers as they are a long way off shore, so what have they done to protect the area then? if all they have done is ban recreational fishing?

This dead marlin will have little impact on the survival of the species, it might in fact help understand the species a little better. Fish eat fish its life Marlin like this are killed every day by other species, if you want to do your bit don’t get sucked into this anti-fishing campaign and our environmental NGO’s propaganda.
Gail Brandhoff, Frankston, 12-10-12 13:31:
So sad ;(;(;(;(
Michael Anderson, Port Douglas, 12-10-12 13:29:
what an amazing feat, catching a fish that size would be an amazing experience.

Thankyou to everyone whom has not assisted in publicising the Tropical North region as a fishing destination
Terry Ryan, Koh Samui, 12-10-12 12:34:
Save the Oceans before its too late.
I thought we moved on from big game murder years ago to sustainable tourism.
There are plenty of organisation that are trying to save the oceans before its too late.
We could all sit back and say it's OK and wake up in years to come to dead reefs, oceans and seas. is one action we should all support as well as many others
Alex Warr, Gold Coast, 12-10-12 12:11:
Wow, a lot of negativity here in the comments.

I think the first thing that should be noted is that this catch is 100% legal, however frowned upon it may be by the sport fishing 'elite.' As a catch and release fisho myself, I am saddened to see such a magnificent creature hanging from a gantry, but that's life. Whether or not the fish did actually die during the fight or sometime after, it's irrelevant now. And if it did die '100m down', then I would much rather see it feeding a family or two than being chewed apart by crabs.

In the grand scheme of things, this capture is meaningless. It's funny how many of you are up in arms over this single recreational fishing capture; do you still share the same voice on the topic of longliners? Or is it a case of 'ignorance is bliss.' Recreational fisherman are an easy scapegoat for the degradation of the environment, which as a notion is not only unfair, but untrue.
Kait Kelly, US, 12-10-12 02:13:
Maybe I am naive, but if you catch something that big and it just so happened died on the line would you not be the least bit curious about how much it weighs? And for others to see your catch? I would be proud to fight a fish that large, and sometimes pictures do not do it justice. Like others said also, if you release a fish after that long of a fight it is exhausted and will end up dying anyways.
But, I do believe you should only target species you want to eat.
veronica hazeldine, port douglas, 11-10-12 21:08:
How can anyone be proud of reeling in such a beautiful creature.
Just a few hours earlier it was out in the ocean doing its thing, and now its dead,for what? Someones sick idea of fun?
That picture just made me cry.
suzie baynton, julatten, 11-10-12 16:50:
bad how sad for these magnificent fish tage & release should be a big fine if you kill one durng or after the catching...

very poor performance by boat owners....

how come the fish died....
Jason Sykes, Cairns, 11-10-12 11:15:
You can catch all the latest on the marlin fishing at
Bernard Beers, PD, 11-10-12 10:35:
Imagine the uproar if I did this to a dog or horse and hung it up for public display?
Richard Hopper, Port Douglas, 11-10-12 09:43:
Thanks Jessie for the info.
Rohan Cross, Cairns, 11-10-12 08:52:
Yeah its a shame,and the crew didnt need to weigh such a fish in the public eye, gives the industry a bad look, Having worked the deck for a few seasons I can stand tall and advise that the sport and industry of game fishing here in Cairns is without doubt the best managed in the WORLD, A few fish dying like this every year is not going to make the difference, fish die everyday, its the hard nature of the ocean, no different to the pilchard in your freezer, Tuna on ya sandwich, or the Mackeral you last had from the fish'n'chipy, And a fish of this size is also towards the end of its natural life span, meaning it has already succsesfully spawned and re-produced millions upon millions of baby larve, most of which by the way would have been killed by other ocean preditors, But Black Marlins are not under threat, not by a long shot, there populations are very very healthly. We humans are good at choosing what animals die and what animals dont, based on beauty/size and other irrelivant factors, Im not impressed either the Mai-Tai team have done this, and Im sure the industry leaders will think the same, But hey, Each to their own, Its a free world, get over it,
Jason Stephens, Scottsdale, 11-10-12 04:25:
Use a camera not a rod. Let the Ocean heal from our overfishing and killing all in the name of glory.
Jessie Forrest, Port Douglas, 11-10-12 02:19:
@richard hopper: when a Marlin takes a line it will sometimes dive deep - called spearing. Most experienced skippers will work with the fisherman to try to keep the Marlin as close to the surface as possible, trying to prevent this spearing motion. There are a few theories as to why they do this and also there's a few on how this instinctive action also causes death in some cases. Some say it's the gas compression on tissues, or pressure on the aortic valve and some say suffocation or a burst swim bladder. As I understand it, this doesn't happen often and regardless of the theory that is most correct, I think it was disrespectful, egotistical and shameful to drag the poor thing back to Port. And to all, please don't judge our Port based Game Fisherman on this one rare act from an out-of-towner. All of the Game Boats here that I know practice tag and release and have a deep respect for the ocean and it's inhabitants.
Lisa-Jean Cunnington, Clifton beach, 10-10-12 23:48:
Positively a horrific scene at the Marina. I am saddened for those who had to endure. Yet disgusted that satisfaction was given to those fishing killers by onlookers. Who the heck organized the crane. When was the crane called in?
How and why was this allowed? There is no excuse for this to be allowed. I know many people that fish, do the Marlin season and none not one of them is there for any kill. The sport itself is outrageous but it's done. Its cruel. But this is truly the lowest of all lows for me and clearly many of you. I hope this doesn't EVER happen in Port again. Never allowed to happen again.
Ian Ziebell, Cairns, 10-10-12 22:42:
Wow all the comments above!!!! How do you think cairns/port Douglas was put on the map??? Game fishing. Yes a fish died... One of only 1000 that are taged and released, all game fisherman strive to ensure these magic fish are looked after And that is why today northqueensland has one of the best black marlin fishery in the world. We no longer bring these magic fish home as trophies like in the 70s, or like other countries still do today an 800lb fish is by no means a huge fish in northqueensland and I'm sure the crew on Mai tai have captured much bigger only to be released healthy.
We have so many do gooders in this world who will all happily sit down to a feed of fish , prawns, or any other creature that was once swam the oceans but only criticize when they have to see it first hand wake up this is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world.
Brooke Rigby, Port douglas, 10-10-12 18:45:
Absolutely Disgusting!!
Susan Jones, mossman, 10-10-12 18:45:
I see no difference between this and ANY sort of fishing. Please explain
Murray Worthington, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 18:17:
Can someone help me out here, at what size does fishing become hunting?
graham cox, miallo, 10-10-12 18:15:
What a shame this marlin died. Its not a good look for our industry. But its a worse shame that people think cows and pigs and sheep are so disgusting looking that its ok to slaughter them in there billions. Get over it. People dying on our roads doesn't stir up this much comment. Come on people, get real..
Annie Crowson, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 17:51:
"Catch and Release" This part baffles me. After 2 1/2hours, wouldn't a creature not unlike this one who has endured such struggle, be an easy catch for other predators in the ocean. "Release" is not really leaving them with a fighting chance.
Wendy Fry, Whyanbeel, 10-10-12 17:42:
I need someone to explain the science a little more. Some catch and keep must still support a sustainable marlin fishery. What are the guidelines for this in Australia? I was in Kona, Hawaii in June and enjoyed watching the 'weigh in' of the fish caught for the day, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, tuna and the others. I also enjoyed going to the local restaurants and fish shops and eating Marlin and the other fish species, cooked and uncooked in many delightful ways, why wouldn't you when it is so fresh? As I understand it the caught fish are sold to the fish market/restaurants, to subsidize the lower cost to the angler of a day out on the boat. What I don't know is about the sustainability of the species and the industry.
Sharon Charles, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 17:30:
I am truely saddened by this behaviour. We pride ourselves on being the most amazing location in the world to see the magnificence of one of the world's most greatest oceans. We have a 'look and do not destroy' policy with some parts of the ocean and its inhabitants. Shame on these people for disrespecting out town and this amazing ocean creature. Stop the GAME fishing. Marlin fishing from Port Douglas should be banned.
tanya smith, edmonton, 10-10-12 17:02:
It died under water because it exhausted itself.

Killing animals for sport is cruel and outdated. Emma don't believe what they said for one second, they didn't bring it back "as tissue samples needed to be taken for oceanographic research". It was brought back because they wanted to SHOW OFF. Disgusting.
Lynton Heffer, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 17:01:
As Managing Agent for several game boats in Port Douglas our skippers and crew are simply furious and disgusted at what the Mai Tai vessel did. Our local game fishing fleet practice catch and release on our marlin captures and this is also complied by 99% of the operators out there. What a lot of people may not release is this particular vessel is not from the region. They certainly have not made any friends in these neck of the woods. - Heff
Lynda Miller, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 16:48:
such a shame...this is a grandfather/mother of our ocean!
Kathryn Hamilton, Cairns, 10-10-12 16:27:
I can't believe that we are still doing this in Australia. These people should be named and shamed for their actions. They obviously have more money than sense or compassion. I am sickened by the thought of what this animal endured.
Cameron Walton, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 16:22:
It seems that the ocean is one of the last places that big game hunting is still allowed. It is no different from shooting lions, elephants etc. It is an outdated activity (sport is not the right word) and is purely ego driven. Live bait is the preferred method which means large fish such as Dolphin fish etc are caught, kept alive and used as bait by tying them through the eyes. if this is not barbaric what is.
Robyn Jarram, Mossman, 10-10-12 16:13:
How sad it is to watch one of the most beautiful creatures on our earth be subjected to such treatment. A big fish doesn't equal big anything else! Perhaps the fishermen who see pleasure in murdering Marlins should consider what sport they will do when there are no Marlin left to fish.
emma sullivan, mossman, 10-10-12 16:07:
I spoke to a gentleman from the boat yesterday, he told me the fish was brought back as tissue samples needed to be taken for oceanographic research. Weighing the animal would be part of that research. He also answered all of my children's questions and was very generous with his time. Although I don't support this in any way, shape or form, I don't think it's as black and white as it seems.
Carolynne Lohr, Tyers, 10-10-12 16:03:
A publicity stunt gone wrong! Massive fish like that - mature female. Not sustainable fishing. And sorry but a tournament organiser is not an expert on populations of Marlin.
Grace Suarez, Miami, 10-10-12 15:56:
How shame ...How sad.KILL FOR WHAT?where is the placer for destroy?wake up ...........
Laura Leigh, USA, 10-10-12 15:45:
Ima Adey, Sydney NSW, 10-10-12 15:42:
Things like this are very sad, that big beautiful fish gave its very life just so that some man with hunter/ predator emotions got some kudos for killing something...killing big fish doesn't make you any more of a man...real men are kind to animals, no matter what the species. Scenes like this are a sad reflection on humanity.
mike Thurtell, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 15:07:
I thought the days of parading the big prize catch were over. I feel ashamed and disgusted to think that this still goes on. I am glad my children didn't have to see this appalling sight of such a magnificent creature being killed in the name of sport. No doubt it ended up at the tip or in a backwater creek somewhere as croc food after all the back slapping was over .Tag and release if you must but don't bring them in . dead or alive .
Andy Thompson, Rocky Point, 10-10-12 13:44:
Its beyond me why such a beautiful creature has to go through such cruelty all in the name of sport ?????
don newton, miallo, 10-10-12 13:44:
400.5kg, 100 meters down amazing line I want to know where I can buy it! this is the equivelent to pulling up a sunken dingy buy rod, hard to believe, poor fish where's the sport in this?
Lynda Atkinson, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 13:00:
What a devastating sight this was to behold in the marina yesterday morning as I walked by with my 6 yo daughter, but such a learning experience. If we can all get some sort of education and awareness from this then the animal will not have died in vain as is too late to give it back its life now.

I'm appalled and gutted that this happened, tag and release is dodgy enough, but killing it and then bringing it back purely to gloat? So sad. I wonder how these people feel about whaling? Perhaps they need to have a voice too, let's hear their side of it.
Barbara Dippenaar, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 12:17:
I am appalled and disgusted!! Why kill a beautiful creature like that??? Ego??
Brett Davison, Cairns, 10-10-12 11:54:
Having game fished all my life and witnessed the transition from capture to tag it saddens me to still see game fisherman wanting to bring such a beautiful animal in to weigh it regardless of it dying or not, It absolutly achieves nothing other than than to upset people and satisfy egos.
These animals should always be treated with respect and dignity such as any other creature of this calibre that roams our oceans, they come here to breed and then move on to continue their lives, we should consider ourselves as fisherman fotunate enough to encounter them as we do but should also take into consideration the animals welfare if we fish for them, these large fish are all breeding females and are the ones that allow the species to continue.
Damian Passlow, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 11:20:
Any idea where it ended up ?
Julie Robertson, Porty Douglas, 10-10-12 11:18:
Honestly what an ego trip, killing that magnificent creature just to take a photo..thought our policy was tag only. Cruel sport to have that poor marlin fighting for its life for 2 1/2 hrs.
emma sullivan, mossman, 10-10-12 10:31:
It's pretty disgusting really.
Michelle Casey Casey, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 09:46:
"Oh, it died 100m below the surface....", Yeah right!!

If we are supposed to believe this, then why didn't they take a few photos and then cut it off and let other marine animals eat on the carcass? For what possible purpose could there be in bringing it back to the Marina other than to show off?
Richard Hopper, Port Douglas, 10-10-12 09:30:
Can anyone enlighten me as to why it may have died 100m below the surface of the water and what the relevance of that comment was?

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