Fishing waste takes toll on birds

Queensland fishers told to clean up rubbish.

The RSPCA has urged fishers to dispose of their waste properly following a rise in the number of wildlife getting entangled in discarded lines and hooks.

The animal welfare organisation has dealt with a large number of call-outs relating to birds and flying foxes caught in fishing waste in recent months.

RSPCA Senior Animal Rescue Officer Jo Jordaan urged people to consider the possible impact of not cleaning up their rubbish after fishing.

“This is always a problem for us, but we seem to be getting more and more of these cases,” Ms Jordaan said.

“The discarded lines and hooks are trapping thousands of birds a year and sadly most of these aren’t discovered until it’s too late.”

Ms Jordaan said once alerted to a bird in distress, RSPCA officers had the difficult job of catching the bird before taking it for treatment.
In south-east Queensland, injured birds are treated at RSPCA wildlife hospitals at Wacol in Brisbane, Currumbin on the Gold Coast and Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.

“If it’s something that hasn’t been caught up for too long, usually they can be released pretty quickly - so that's the best-case scenario - but obviously if it looks like there's a bit of an infection then they have to go under vet treatment for a little while,” Ms Jordaan said.

Fishing waste

For birds that are not caught and treated, the outcome could be catastrophic.

“They could struggle so much that they break a leg or the entanglement could get so tight that it cuts off the circulation and it could lose its foot,” Ms Jordaan said.

“People have probably seen seagulls around with missing feet, so that's what’s happened.” 

Ms Jordaan said the message was simple for people packing up after fishing.

“We’d just urge people to clean up their fishing waste,” she said.

“It really isn’t too much to ask people to simply clean up when they’re packing up.

“A lot of councils have got fishing line bins, so any offcuts you can chuck them into those bins to make sure that it’s not ending up in the ocean or where the birds are foraging, where they might pick it up.”