COASTGUARD volunteers have urged amateur tuna fishing crews to check their equipment after two rescues off Portland yesterday due to engine failure.
Nanjing Night Net

The first distress call came about 10.30am from a stricken boat about 30 miles off the coast with the caller reporting a seized engine.

It took about four hours of towing to bring the boat back to Portland harbour boat ramp.

While the Coastguard was heading out for the rescue, another boat crew off Cape Nelson made a distress call to report their anchor had broken and the engine had failed.

Coastguard flotilla commander Stephen Brown said he decided to call in Portland Surf Lifesaving Club which was closer to the drama.

“We were too far out and, considering the fishing craft was drifting towards Cape Nelson, we decided the surf club’s six-metre rescue boat could reach it much sooner,” Mr Brown told The Standard yesterday.

“Our advice is for all boat owners to check their electrical and mechanical equipment before heading out for tuna season,” he said.

“They should also install VHF radios which have a longer range than the mandatory marine radios.

“Early in the season last year there were quite a few call-outs because of breakdowns.

“This weekend there were in excess of 100 boat crews on the sea looking for southern bluefin tuna.

“They didn’t catch much, but reports indicate a lot more schools of fish are heading this way, so it will get busier.”

Portland is popular because the continental shelf where tuna schools feed is relatively close, about 25 nautical miles off the coast.

However, some crews travel up to 50 miles out in the chase of a good catch.

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