A RECORD-breaking marlin catch off Townsville, Australia has reignited bitter divisions over the killing of the highly prized game fish. By Peter Michael, Courrier Mail
But the man who landed the 4.2m, 503kg specimen – fisherman Mark Hislop from Magnetic Island – yesterday denied claims he was a “trophy hunter”, despite plans to make a wall ornament.
The female black marlin was caught 150km off Townsville on Saturday and was the largest recorded in waters south of Cairns.
The public weigh-in of the monster “grander” and the ceremonial towing out to sea of the carcass over the weekend sparked public outcry.
But Australia’s top marlin researcher Dr Julian Pepperell and fishing groups yesterday dismissed the uproar as lacking scientific basis.
“It is a gut reaction: we see a big dead marlin and we say, ‘What a beautiful fish, why did we kill that?’,” said Dr Pepperell.
“But from a biological point of view they are a fast-growing fish and the take is insignificant in terms of sustainability.”
Mr Hislop, owner of game fishing boat Rose Red, said he fought back tears when he discovered the monster fish had died in the struggle.
It is thought the marlin died not from exhaustion but from a punctured organ, caused by the hook.
“I’m an environmentalist too. I almost cried,” said Mr Hislop.
“We usually kiss everything, tag it and let it go.
I would have loved to see her stay in the sea. We want them there for tomorrow for our kids to tag and release too. I’m a bit sentimental about it.”
Skipper of the Rose Red Tom Hatrick, and president of the Townsville Game Fishing Association, said it was “only the second” not to be tagged and released in the region in nine years.
But local Wendy Tubman, writing on a local blog site, asked: “Do you feel big yet? Spin and rationalise as much as you like guys – the fact is that you killed a magnificent animal that was playing a perfectly useful role in the ecological chain for no other purpose than ‘fun’.”
Australian Marine Conservation Society Craig Bohm agreed, saying the iconic black marlin needed to be treated as a “living treasure”. “It is trophy hunting,” Mr Bohm said.
Noosaville-based expert Dr Pepperell said the fish was likely to be a female, up to 10 years old and would have produced tens of millions of eggs over four or five breeding seasons.
“The average snapper you buy in the fish shop is most likely older than that marlin.”
He said the biggest threat was from commercial fishing by long-liners in the southwestern Pacific which kills 10,000 black marlin a year, compared to about 3000 a year (with 99 per cent tagged and released) taken by the game fishing industry.
The Australian record for a black marlin is 654kg caught off Cairns in 1973. The world record is 708kg taken off Peru in 1953.
Some interesting comments about this article:
…Surely these so called “sportspersons” can find a “sport” that doesn’t involve hurting or killing defenceless animals. I can think of few pastimes more cruel and gutless than fishing, especially when it takes three hours of torment and horror before finally ripping the fish out of its natural environment…good on yah….and the fact that most marlin are let go…how very bloody sporting…just imagine yourself being dragged around by a hook and line for hours fellas and think how it would feel..it’s not about sustainability but the individual animal’s right to be protected from this barbarism.
…If your not going to eat it, don’t reel it in.