Giant 75 metre cargo net retrieved 5 nm offshore in NSW waters

Shipping, boating and fishing crews have been urged to retrieve gear lost overboard rather than leaving it to become an offshore hazard, following a Marine Rescue Port Kembla operation to retrieve a large cargo net on the weekend.

NSW Police Marine Area Command asked Port Kembla 30 to locate and recover the cargo net after a boater out fishing reported it was forming a navigation hazard about 5 nautical miles off Port Kembla on Sunday.

Marine Rescue Port Kembla Deputy Unit Commander Graeme McCrudden said the crew, Russell Edyvean, Ray O’Malley, Craig Thrush and Patrick Cairney, had located the net east of the port and returned it to shore.

“This was a long slow operation, with the tow taking almost two hours as the net was very heavy and about 75 metres long,” Mr McCrudden said. “Once the crew reached the Port Kembla ramp, the tow line was passed to a waiting Port Kembla Water Police 4WD and with assistance from others, the net was dragged to the car park.”

Mr McCrudden said it was important that shipping, boating and fishing crews retrieved gear from the ocean to prevent it becoming a hazard for other boaters and wildlife, particularly migrating whales.

“If something falls overboard, you should make every effort to retrieve it. If boaters see any gear that they can easily retrieve, they should bring it ashore. In this case, this net was obviously too large,” he said. “Whales and dolphins can easily become tangled in ropes, lines and nets such as this. If that line or net then becomes caught around rocks or a reef, the animal would not be able to come up for air and would drown.

“Equipment such as this floating on or just below the surface also can foul boats’ propellers, leading to a major emergency.”

Mr McCrudden said while the net retrieval was still under way, Port Kembla 30 was tasked to retrieve a yacht in trouble off Wollongong and return it to harbour.

– Ken McManus

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