Living for fishing and fishing for a living
THE crew of the reef fishing boat Maharani have a job many people would envy.
Manager Will Neill said fishing on the Great Barrier Reef was an amazing work environment.
"We also see the flip side," he said.
"We had to stay out on the reef during the recent winds.
"We were the only vessel out there in the last blow and we were stuck there for five days waiting for it to clear."
The Maharani has seven crew, a captain, deckhand and five fishermen who go to sea for two weeks at a time.
"We fish the Swains Reef which is about 120 nautical miles from Gladstone and takes 18 to 26 hours to get there," Mr Neill said.
"We'll run out to the reef about 18 times a year and pretty much go out in all weather."
The fishermen work out of dories using handlines to catch approximately 30 - 50 fish each day.
"On a good run we'll catch 2000 fish including, coral trout, red emperor, sweetlip, parrot fish, hussar, stripeys, red throat, red emperor, cod, trevally and spanish mackarel," he said.
"Sometimes we might catch nothing in an area, then we'll go back a week later and the boys will be catching 50 fish a day each."
The bulk of fish is processed aboard and frozen but the coral trout are stored in a large live tank on the Maharani.
"The tank is huge, runs the length of the boat," Mr Neill said.
"The live coral trout goes to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and approximately 22 per cent get exported, chiefly to Hong Kong.
"All our frozen product, about 25 tonnes a year, goes to local fish markets."
He said the fishermen spend most of their days alone in the dories fishing on the reef.
"The Swains is so huge we rarely see other boats out there," Mr Neill said.
"It's an amazing job, especially when the weather is good."