The Department of Transport says it suspects recreational fishers are responsible for a wave buoy rider going adrift off Western Australia’s south coast. 

Key points:

  • The device records important information about sea conditions such as wave height and direction
  • The Department of Transport believes people fishing too close to the buoy are responsible
  • It says this buoy will be replaced, but the next one that goes missing might not be

A wave rider buoy is a floating device that records the direction and height of waves and provides information that is used by commercial fishers, shipping companies, and port authorities.

Department of Transport’s Great Southern operations manager Noel Chambers said the mooring line to the buoy might have been severed because of damage by large fishing hooks.

“We’ve had incidences in the past where fishing lines have nicked the bungee cord that attaches to the seabed and that then fails and releases the wave rider buoy to drift wherever the ocean takes it,” he said.

‘Valuable information’ could be lost

The buoy was situated west of Eclipse Island, off the Albany coast.

It is the second time a buoy has been lost there, despite fishers being asked not to fish within 100 metres of the devices.

Mr Chambers said it was disappointing that someone had potentially prioritised their catch over the safety of those at sea.

“Wave height [information] is critical, especially when you’re fishing — whether you’re in a boat or rock fishing — because it has a huge impact on the safety of people both in or near the water,” he said.

“Albany’s been selected for wave energy … the long-term information we have about wave energy in Albany has been collected by that wave rider buoy, so the information is very valuable and we don’t want to lose it.”

Search for buoy proves fruitless

The wave rider buoy is a large yellow sphere surrounded by a steel frame and fitted with a 2-metre antenna.

It is hoped the device will be found and returned to the department, but a search along the coastline after it went offline has proven unsuccessful.

Mr Chambers said the department did not have the resources to track down people fishing near the wave rider buoy.

He said the device would be replaced next year, but the next one that went missing might not be replaced.

“What is … likely is that the department will remove the device altogether and then we lose that record and lose that information and lose the capacity to check on wave speed, direction and height,” Mr Chambers said.

Fishers blamed for wave buoy going missing off WA coast
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