Dead male dugong washed up at Seven Mile Creek, Rod’s Bay in Turkey Beach.
Dead male dugong washed up at Seven Mile Creek, Rod’s Bay in Turkey Beach. Chrissy Harris GLAGONG

Harbour animal death probe

LAST week’s announcement by Environment Minister Kate Jones that she would set up a scientific panel to investigate marine animal deaths in Gladstone Harbour still stands, despite her resignation from the position.

Ms Jones called The Observer on June 12, stating the scientific panel would be established. But yesterday she stood down from her post.

She intends to focus on defending her seat against Campbell Newman, who is contesting her electorate of Ashgrove.

The initiative was applauded last week by environmentalists and the seafood industry after months of controversy surrounding a string of mysterious deaths of dolphins, dugongs and turtles.

Fears the plan would be scuttled before it even began because of the minister’s resignation were eased yesterday when the Department of Environment and Resource Management confirmed the scientific panel would go ahead regardless.

“The Department of Environment and Resource Management is progressing with the establishment of the scientific panel to investigate marine deaths in waters in and around Gladstone with membership to be finalised shortly,” Terry Wall, acting director general of DERM, told The Observer.

Ms Jones was elevated to the position this year.

She faced a baptism of fire in the Gladstone region as an explosive debate erupted over the deaths of turtles in the mouth of the Boyne River.

She responded by declaring a 60-day ban on net fishing in the area.

A troubled ministership

More than 22 dead turtles washed up at the mouth of the Boyne River in April.

Ms Jones responded with a 60-day ban on net fishing there.

Three dolphins and two dugongs were found dead in May-June.

The minister announced a scientific panel to investigate.