Baby bar­ras dy­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

BAR­RA­MUNDI sea­son is of­fi­cially open but there are al­ready signs of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity of peo­ple tak­ing ju­ve­nile fish while net­ting for prawns on Sun­day morn­ing.

Lo­cal Net­work for Sus­tain­able Fish­ing mem­bers are con­cerned about in­shore fish num­bers and Wonga Beach mem­ber David Cook said the sea­sonal rush to bag a feed of prawns from our lo­cal beaches, is tak­ing its toll.

‘‘It amazes me how in­con­sid­er­ate some peo­ple are. Again we have to watch on as ju­ve­nile com­mer­cial fish are be­ing killed in their hun­dreds if not thou­sands,’’ Mr Cook said.

‘‘One fam­ily from the Tablelands had a num­ber of very small prawns in a bucket along with a nice baby barra about a foot long – that’s to­tally il­le­gal. Along the tide line where they were drag­ging were lots of dead ju­ve­nile fish of sev­eral species in­clud­ing king threadfin and quee­nies.

‘‘I asked them why they had kept an un­der­sized barra, and told them they risked a hefty fine if they did not re­lease it im­me­di­ately. Since the barra was still alive I did this for them.

‘‘The fam­ily was also pulling the net right out of the wa­ter to search for prawns in amongst the flood de­bris dragged up by the net, al­low­ing any re­main­ing ju­ve­nile fish that were not fa­tally meshed to die in the sun.’’

Mr Cook said re­cre­ation fish­ing rules of Queens­land state ‘No part of the net con­tain­ing fish must be out of the wa­ter other than to im­me­di­ately re­move fish for re­lease’.

‘‘There is ev­i­dence that the law is a bit of an ass in this re­gard,’’ said Mr Cook.

‘‘Small prawns along our beaches are al­ways in the com­pany of ju­ve­niles of prime fish species of the very size that be­comes fa­tally meshed in the prawn nets.

‘‘ Hun­dreds of fish can be meshed in one go and it takes up to a cou­ple of min­utes to re­lease each one care­fully and even then they usu­ally die in the process. No mat­ter how much care is taken lots of fish end up dead af­ter ev­ery drag.’’

Queens­land Boat­ing and Fish­eries Pa­trol dis­trict of­fi­cer Robert Ibell said the closed sea­sons were aimed at en­sur­ing the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of bar­ra­mundi and even though the sea­son is now open, rules still ap­ply.

‘‘ The closures co­in­cide with spawn­ing pe­ri­ods and pro­tect bar­ra­mundi stocks dur­ing this vul­ner­a­ble pe­riod of their life cy­cle,’’ Mr Ibell said.

‘‘The closed sea­sons al­low fish to spawn and stocks to re­plen­ish to en­sure there are healthy fish stocks for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Queens­lan­ders.

‘‘Dur­ing the open sea­son, a min­i­mum size limit of 58 cm, max­i­mum size limit of 120 cm and a pos­ses­sion limit of five ap­ply.’’

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on closed sea­sons or size and pos­ses­sion lim­its in Queens­land, visit www.fish­eries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

Pic­ture: DAVID COOK

RE­MOV­ING BARRA:

Drag nets are tak­ing a toll.

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