Baby barras dying
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.
Drag nets are taking a toll.