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Yet the difficulty in estimating the size of dugong populations remained.
Welsby (1931, pp103-4) stated: 'It is strange how many boating parties pass over
the waters of Moreton Bay and never see a dugong', although he also stated that
'dozens and dozens' of dugongs were reported to be present in the waters between
Wynnum and Amity Point and that the animals 'abound upon and around the
Moreton, Amity and Pelican banks in hundreds the whole year through'. Such
reports indicate the uncertainty that characterised early estimates of the dugong
population in Moreton Bay. Yet that dugong population continued to support
sporadic commercial fisheries, which probably resumed in response to the need
for employment in the deteriorating economic conditions of the 1930s. Dugong
fishing may also have been stimulated in Hervey Bay by the establishment of a
company at Wynnum manufacturing a variety of fish and shark products (Dick,
1932, p6). One party fished for dugongs in Moreton Bay and in the Burrum
River during 1930 and 1931, catching 35 animals of varying sizes in one month
at the latter location; the following season, about 100 dugongs were caught in
Hervey Bay. By 1935, dugong fishing was concentrated in Hervey Bay where
nineteen dugongs were caught, followed by a larger harvest in 1936 in which
one fisher caught 30 animals. In 1937 and 1938, 50 and 35 dugongs were caught,
respectively (Dick, 1935, p1091; 1936, p1142; 1937, p1403; 1938, p1283; Lack,
1968, p5).
A summary of documented dugong catches in Moreton Bay between 1884
and 1938 is given in Figure 7.4. Uncertainty about the size of the dugong catches
for the years 1912-1928, due to the omission of dugong harvest data from the
Annual Reports of the Inspector of Fisheries, is apparent from the information
missing from Figure 7.4; that omission probably reflects the comparatively low
status of the dugong fishery in Queensland. However, Figure 7.4 illustrates
the increased effort that took place in the fishery during the years 1930-1938.
no records
1884 1888 1892 1896 1900 1904 1908 1912 1916 1920 1924 1928 1932
Figure 7.4 Numbers of dugongs caught in Moreton Bay, 1884-1938 (where records were
available). Source: Compiled from data provided in QVP , 1884-1900; QPP , 1901-1938
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