Op­po­si­tion to fish trap plan

Pilbara News - - Pil­bara News - Tom Zaun­mayr

Recre­ational an­glers and North West Cen­tral MP Vince Catania have slammed a draft pro­posal by the State Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce com­mer­cial fish trap­ping on the Gas­coyne Coast.

The Depart­ment of Fish­eries is in­ves­ti­gat­ing op­tions for a fish trap­ping trial for three years between Steep Point and Co­ral Bay.

DoF spokesman Clin­ton Sy­ers said while re­search in­di­cated lost traps had the po­ten­tial to “ghost”, or keep trap­ping, fish, fish tended to move freely in and out of the traps de­pend­ing on avail­abil­ity of bait.

“The use of fish traps in two ex­ist­ing fish­eries that op­er­ate off the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley coast­lines is con­sid­ered to be eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able with min­i­mal by-prod­uct or detri­men­tal im­pact to the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, the loss of fish traps in the ex­ist­ing trap fish­eries is a rare event and con­sid­ered to pose a neg­li­gi­ble risk to stock sus­tain­abil­ity.”

Ex­mouth Game Fish­ing Club pres­i­dent Jeni Gates said fish­eries should be tar­get­ing the un­der­ly­ing con­cern of sharks tak­ing catches on wet lines.

“Whether it be recre­ation­ally or com­mer­cially, there are too many sharks in the re­gion be­cause they are not tar­geted,” she said.

“Re­gard­less of whether it’s trap or wet line fish­ing … if the recre­ational sec­tor is up in arms about it, they need to look closely at the ar­eas … com­mer­cial fish­ers are tar­get­ing.”

Among the many con­cerns voiced by Mr Catania was the “lu­di­crous” two-week win­dow for pub­lic-com­ment which closes to­day, de­ple­tion of fish stocks and dam­age to ju­ve­nile fish and co­ral.

“This pro­posal has the po­ten­tial to dec­i­mate recre­ational fish­ing, re­sult­ing in sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic losses in the recre­ational fish­ing and tourism sec­tor,” he said.

“Peo­ple in the Gas­coyne have long mem­o­ries and many re­count the rea­son th­ese traps were with­drawn orig­i­nally in the 80s.

“Fish traps are an idea that be­longs in the last cen­tury. “We now fish for the fu­ture.” Mr Sy­ers said the fish traps could in fact lead to a re­duc­tion in to­tal fish mor­tal­ity be­cause of de­creased risk of shark pre­da­tion.

“Com­mer­cial fish­ers re­port that up to 20 per cent of their line-caught fish is cur­rently be­ing lost to sharks,” he said.

“As the fish­ery is quota-based there is a limit on the to­tal amount of fish that can be landed by com­mer­cial fish­ers each year, there­fore the use of fish traps could … re­sult in an over­all re­duc­tion in to­tal fish­ing mor­tal­ity as fish traps af­ford pro­tec­tion from sharks.”

RecFishWest chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Row­land said about 100 sub­mis­sions had been made.

Mr Catania said a pe­ti­tion he had cir­cu­lated had gath­ered more than 1000 sig­na­tures.

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