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“People in the Gascoyne have long memories and many recount the reason these traps were withdrawn originally in the 80s.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