A commercial fisherman has been slapped with a $3734 fine after a 'disgusting' incident at a Mackay region beach was found to have breached the Fisheries Act.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol said the fisher had set a net in the Southern Cape Hillsborough net free zone on Sunday March 14.

A Fisheries Queensland Patrol spokesman said officers had fined the Mackay fisher $3734 for multiple breaches of the Fisheries Act after a tip-off to the Fishwatch hotline sparked an investigation.

But a witness to the incident who captured video footage of the net said the problem went much deeper, with frequent netting in the Southern Cape Hillsborough area having a major impact on the turtle population.

A net in a net-free zone at Southern Cape Hillsborough.
A net in a net-free zone at Southern Cape Hillsborough.

The witness, who asked not to be named over fear of retribution, said the net had killed at least three turtles.

The Habana resident was walking along the rocks at Southern Cape Hillsborough on Sunday when he noticed the net in the net-free zone and reported it.

"I could see there were three that were dead," he said.

"The more you looked, the more you saw."

The Habana resident said he had noticed a decline in the turtle population in the area in recent months.

"Literally half the turtles are gone … now we know why," he said.

"To be crucified in an area where they should be protected - it's disgusting."

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A net in a net-free zone at Southern Cape Hillsborough.
A net in a net-free zone at Southern Cape Hillsborough.

The Fisheries Queensland Patrol spokesman said the fisher who was fined reported that one turtle was successfully released alive from the net.

"The fisher, who co-operated with QBFP officers, received three fisheries infringement notices and a caution," he said.

"There are rules in place for commercial fishers relating to attendance at their fishing nets and reporting of all interactions with protected species, including turtles.

"Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by Fisheries Queensland."

People who suspect illegal fishing activity should report it to the 24-hour toll-free Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.

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