A snap ban on commercial barramundi fishing in remote Arnhem Land waters has prompted calls for an urgent overhaul of the Northern Territory’s fishing laws, to better safeguard future barra stocks.
- Traditional owners in Arnhem Land’s Buckingham Bay suspended commercial barramundi fishing in the area on September 20
- The recreational fishing peak body is concerned the ban will lead to more commercial netting in other popular areas
- The NT government says it will not implement changes prior to the findings of an industry review
The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) is concerned the NT’s barra supplies are being put at risk as commercial barramundi fishers start to shift from banned areas in Arnhem Land to recreational fishing hotspots such as the Roper River and Anson Bay, at the mouth of the Daly River.
Since the ban at Buckingham Bay came into force on September 20, AFANT chief executive David Ciaravolo said there had been several commercial barra boats spotted at the mouth of the Daly.
There have also been anecdotal reports from recreational fishers in the area that they are already struggling to catch barra, and are seeing more dead marine animals which have been caught in commercial fishing nets.
The NT Seafood Council refused to provide an interview or statement on these allegations.
Mr Ciaravolo said the NT’s estimated $270 million recreational fishing industry could be put in jeopardy if such popular areas were overfished.
“If we see an increase of nets and netting in those areas that are shared fisheries, then we’re going to have a problem on our hands,” Mr Ciaravolo said.
“The territory is famous for barramundi fishing because we have an abundance of barramundi.
“We maintain that abundance by having net-free areas, and having areas where we have a balance in the amount of commercial fishing and recreational fishing.
“If that balance is upset, then the product that we have in the tourism market, and the benefits for locals, will be disrupted severely.”
Call for gill netting to be phased out, quotas implemented
Mr Ciaravolo said it was a “very difficult and delicate issue for the commercial fishery”.
“They’re fishing in a way using gill nets that the broad community does not like, many traditional owners have spoken that they do not like,” he said.
He said AFANT would support the gradual phasing out of gill netting — a practice which conservationists and traditional owners believe causes harm to the marine environment — and he called for the federal government to step in and assist, as it has done in Queensland.
Gill nets are large rectangular nets suspended vertically in the water, often near the mouth of a river.
A spokesperson for Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek did not answer if it would provide any assistance to the NT government regarding gill netting.
“Fishing licences and regulations are a matter for the Northern Territory government,” they said.
NT Fisheries Minister Paul Kirby said in a statement he would not commit to any changes as a review into the territory’s barra industry was currently underway.
“This review is being undertaken in conjunction with all stakeholders to determine the best way forward,” Mr Kirby said.
“I won’t pre-empt the potential outcomes of the review or the long-term strategies that may be considered, but note that a new sustainable fishery harvest strategy will be implemented in time for the 2024 commercial season.”
Shadow NT Fisheries Minister Joshua Burgoyne said the lack of clarity from the government had “created uncertainty across the industry and rec fishers”.
“It could have a huge economic impact, costing jobs and tourism dollars,” Mr Burgoyne said.
“We have to be able to facilitate sustainable commercial fishing here in the NT long term, working with traditional owners to achieve this without compromising the environment or this vital industry.”
The Country Liberal Party did not answer if it would support the idea of commercial fisher licence buybacks or banning the practice of gill netting in the Northern Territory.
Commercial fishermen Karl Warr (left) and Matt Douglas are still feeling the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on the waters seven months after the event. Photo / James Pocock
Commercial fishers say their catches are down and there’s still debris and sediment heaped on the ocean floor of Hawke’s Bay, as the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle linger seven months on.
Occasionally, debris surfaces –
South west Victorians are lobbying for ban on gillnet fishing in Portland Bay where an informal agreement against the practice has been in place for 30 years.
- Portland recreational fishers are calling for a ban on commercial gillnet fishing in the area
- The group’s petition has attracted nearly 7,700 signatures, and the local shire council also supports the ban
- A commercial fisher operating in the area says he is abiding by the government’s rules
The voluntary agreement was made between commercial and recreational fishers in 1994.
The arrival of a new commercial fisher to the area has prompted the launch of community group, No Netting in Portland.
Its petition to Victorian Outdoor Recreation Minister Sonya Killkenny has gathered nearly 7,700 signatures, while the local Glenelg Shire Council has unanimously voted to also write to the minister.
The petition said the Portland community relied on recreational fishing to draw tourists from across Australia to the town and the group wanted to protect marine ecosystems, including endangered Southern Right whales that migrated through the area.
Following the rules
Phil McAdam has been a fisher for more than 45 years.
His adult daughters also worked for their successful family business in Williamstown, Melbourne, where the family had fished for sardines for bait and human consumption.
But in April 2022, state government changes to fishing regulations outlawed commercial netting in Port Philip Bay.
Mr McAdam’s licence was revoked, prompting him to look further afield, where he landed on Portland as a viable option to relocate with his fishing licence.
No Netting in Portland’s public Facebook page has drawn comments from many concerned locals, some of who have made threatening comments.
The ABC has viewed comments, which included people posting it was time to “start cutting his nets up” and put “holes in his boat”.
In response to the Portland community’s concerns, Mr McAdam said his fishing practices were legal and abided by official rules.
“I just want to be left alone to do my job. It’s as simple as that,” Mr McAdam said.
“I moved down there knowing the laws in place and I was happy to abide by those laws, which I have done.”
The Victorian Fisheries Regulations prohibited use of certain types of nets — including mesh — in Portland Bay between the Lee Breakwater and Snapper Point at particular times, including between December 24 and January 22 every year, Easter weekend, and on long weekends.
Working to ban netting
No Netting in Portland wanted commercial netting banned in this area all year round, in addition to prohibiting all forms of commercial netting in Portland Bay along the coast from Lawrence Rocks to the Fitzroy River mouth.
Spokesperson Mat Nash said he did not condone the social media comments about Mr Adams.
He said his focus was to raise awareness and seek to change the regulations in place that allowed gillnet fishing in Portland Bay in the first place.
Mr Nash called the coastal town a fishing mecca, with tourists coming from far and wide to enjoy recreational angling in the area.
“Commercial fishers have gone above and beyond that, so it’s been very rarely netted over the last 30 years,” he said.
He was concerned about the potential for gillnet fishing to deplete fish stock levels, as there was no restrictions on the amount of fish commercial operators could pull from the water.
“There’s no quota limits, so it’s very hard to regulate,” Mr Nash said.
Concerns about bycatch
Mr Nash said he was also concerned about the amount and types of bycatch caught by netting.
“Our bay is a nursery for juvenile fish to come in when the water warms up,” Mr Nash said.
“When they are caught in a gillnet, they’re dead.
“If those fish are undersize, they’re thrown overboard. For me, it’s not a sustainable way of fishing.”
Mr McAdam declined to comment about the volume of fish he had caught so far, but said that 80 per cent of the fish captured were not target species for recreational fishers.
He said he had fished 13 half days — heading out before dawn and returning to shore before midday — since he began operating in the area in April 2023.
The rules permitted him to use a mesh net with two-inch holes (five centimetres) up to two kilometres in length.
Victorian Fishing Authorities and the Outdoor Recreation Minister Sonya Kilkenny did not respond to a request for comment.
This is the time of the year when you might go out into your yard or garden and find a fawn nestled under a bush, a tree, or a cluster of flowers. These fawns are most likely not alone because the mother is nearby and will attend to the fawn several times during the day and night.
Never touch or handle the fawn as fawns are born without any scent so that predators cannot find them. If you touch the fawn, you will leave scent on it and endanger its life. Deer nap most of the day because they don’t have the ability to stand up right after birth as some other mammals do.
Unless mom runs into an unfortunate accident, she is normally somewhere nearby and will move her fawn or fawns from time to time. The doe will stay away much of the time to keep predators away from the fawn. She will normally return at dawn or dusk to check on the fawn.
I’ve always said that there is nothing sweeter in nature than a fawn and I would surely hate to think that one died because I didn’t know enough to leave alone.
I am a pretty hard person to the ways of the outdoors; I have seen it all in my lifetime. One of the saddest things I have ever seen was a fawn, born inside a chain linked fence yard, that couldn’t get to its mother. The fawn literally destroyed itself trying to tunnel under the fence; it had broken its jaw and one leg trying to get under the fence. All it would have taken was for someone to have opened the gate and everything would have been fine.
Sad as it was, the fawn had to put down!
Please take the time to tell your children to please leave them alone if found and let them live their life as it was intended.
Crappie are biting, bluegill and bass are on their beds and now is an exciting time to fish!
There are all kinds of ways to catch crappie and bluegill from fishing artificial lures, live bait, or using a fly rod; all will put fish on your stringer or in your live well.
There is something about a bee moth (some call them wax worms) that attracts fish and I find them to be the best of the natural baits for crappie and bluegill. Live crickets on the bluegill beds can really produce some quick action as well as provide a lot of fun.
For years I have enjoyed the fruits of fishing during the middle of May and, not only has the weather been great lately but the water has cleared up. This makes for some great spring fishing.
I took a nice bass last Sunday fishing one of the old Bagley lures that I used to fish in the 70s. The fish came out of clear water and just seemed to rise up out of nowhere as I was about to lift the lure out of the water. It’s always a thrill to see a nice bass engulf a lure right before your eyes.
As the water warms up there will be a lot of good days to fish in the upcoming months so get out and enjoy the waters at Kickapoo State Park and Kennekuk County Park. Both areas have plenty of ponds to fish as well as Lake Mingo inside Kennekuk. And, don’t forget our great river systems that hold a great smallmouth bass population that will give you lots of fun,
Stay safe and have a Great Spring!
Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Saturdays. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: email@example.com
Now that it is approaching mid-May, lakes and ponds will begin to warm up and fish will begin to spawn. Spawning involves the building of a circular nest in the mud or sand, having the female drop the eggs into the nest while the male fish is fertilizing them.
In my opinion, this is a time of the year when fishing for big bass becomes a little more difficult. Early in the spring and once the spawn is over have always been my best times of the year for a big bass. During the spawn has never been a good time for me to catch a big bass! Maybe it’s the way I fish that keeps me from taking large spawning bass or maybe it is where I fish that makes this time of the year difficult for me.
With the crazy spring we have had throughout our area, the water is just now getting warm enough to support spawning in the deeper lakes and ponds throughout our area. The optimal water temperature for bass to spawn is 65 degrees. Shallow lakes and ponds warm up faster than deep water lakes and ponds but mid-May is considered the prime time for spawning here in east-central Illinois.
Whenever and wherever the spawn takes place, I love the post-spawn period for taking big bass. Once the big female bass have dropped their eggs, they go on the prowl in search of food to gain back the weight they lost during the spawning process. A big bass may be carrying a pound or more of eggs inside her body before the spawn. Catching her before the spawn may add well over a pound to her total weight!
I’ve fished area lakes and ponds for well over sixty years now and I believe that there are two things that an angler needs to consider if he or she hopes to take a big bass anytime during the year. The first thing you need to figure out is where a big bass is most likely to be in a given lake or pond; where the fish you want to catch will live and where it will most likely go to feed. The big ones don’t generally go from deep water to shallow water without passing through areas where there is some cover to protect them on their way up. This could be a stump or a stump bed, it could be deep water brush or it could be a weed bed extending from deep to shallow water.
They move slowly, methodically, along certain routes that have proven safe for them all the time, they are hungry so you need to find where those deep-water movement points are and fish them hard and different times during your fishing trip.
I fish a lot of clear water and am always looking for spots where a fish could move out of the deep and into the shallows. I seldom fish real deep water and I seldom fish real shallow water; I love the in between zone of eight to ten feet.
The second thing to consider is what is the best time to put yourself in a position to be there when the big fish moves from the deep water to the shallow water to feed? Can an angler predict when and where a big bass will move?
I find what I find contact points in a lake or pond; every body of water has them. Then I sit on them, sometimes for hours, sometimes for a short time and then come back. A lot of this depends on the weather and the wind. Just remember; you have to be there when the fish is there. This may take months; even years in one of the big bass I caught. Find those spots in the lake and just keep pounding them; if your theory is right then you will make contact some day or some night with the big bass you’ve been looking for! Just be ready; it will surprise you! But, you will love it!
There are lots of big fish being caught now that the weather has straightened out in our area. Some nice bass and crappie are being caught at this time but the water in some of the strip mines is crystal clear due to the lack of rain throughout are area.
When the water is gin clear, it is hard to keep the fish from seeing you as they react to movements from a boat or from the shoreline. I don’t like to wear light colors when fishing this clear water.
Once we hit this point in the year, I think an angler can catch a fish on most any type of lure. During the early spring, that is not always true but, now that the water has warmed up it is time to bring out your entire arsenal.
This is the time of the year when you might see a fox around your property, especially near an out building as they are looking for a spot to have and raise their young.
Please leave them alone and let them raise their pups in peace! They won’t stay around forever and, once the pups are grown (about 12 weeks) they will leave.
Fox populations are fairly stable with the red fox inhabiting our area and the gray foxes being more prevalent in southern[PVC1] and western Illinois. There are gray foxes in our area but the population has declined over the years with coyotes filling the niche of the gray fox.
Did you know that a gray fox can climb a tree while a red fox cannot. I only seen this once while squirrel hunting but I knew when it jumped trees that is sure wasn’t a squirrel!
Foxes got a bad wrap back in the day when they were always accused of raiding the hen house. Back when I was a kid it was normally a weasel, a mink, or a raccoon. Foxes are carnivores and they do eat meat, but generally feed on rodents, birds and small mammals.
If you are fortunate to have a den of foxes, watch them, learn from them, and enjoy the time they are there; they won’t be around very long!
The First Lake Vermilion Qualifier was held on April 15th. The results are as follows:
First Place with five fish weighing 14.75 pounds. (Mike Schull)
Second Place with five fish weighing 14.25 pounds. (Rick DePratt/Tony Kirkpatrick)
Third Place with four fish weighing 10.23 pounds. (Mitt High/Jon Bishop)
Fourth Place with three fish weighing 9.30 pounds. (Derek & Ty Coon)
Fifth Place with three fish weighing 8.37 pounds. (Vern Mayberry/Jim Thomas)
Big Bass: Vincent Melecosky 5.97 pounds.
For years now, I have been asking anglers to practice Catch & Release when fishing our area lakes and ponds. Catch & Release should be important to every angler, not just to a select few. Catch & Release allows for the continuation of the fish populations within a lake or pond.
Does this mean that you have to practice releasing fish all the time? Of course not; take what you need but only what you need and let the rest survive to fight another day!
There are reasons why I’m so intent about seeing Catch & Release practiced by anglers. You see, I was one of the original members of the Illini Bass Club coming in the first year after it was chartered. Most of the original members are dead now but I remember the days when tournaments ended with wash tubs of huge bass having the filet knife put to them for club fish fries.
I was part of that process, something that has always bothered me as, over the years, I have seen what anglers who take far too many fish have done to area fish populations.
With cell phones for taking photos and digital scales for accurate weight, there is little reason that some of these big fish need to be taken home and drug around the neighborhood for all to see. Quickly weigh the fish, take some good quick photos, and let the fish go. You have won the battle, you have proof on your phone to show what a great angler you are, and your done. Most of these big fish don’t taste that good anyway!
I’ve tasted those big bass; five, six, and seven pound fish and, to me, they taste terrible. Give me a 12-13 inch bass to eat any day compared to the larger fish.
I’ve caught some big fish in my lifetime, have several walls full of big bass and walleyes in my shop but now stop and wonder why I put them there. The last big bass I caught was bigger than any I had ever caught. I simply took some photos and some quick measurements and carefully placed it back in the water to live to fight another day; to let some other angler have the same thrill that I had catching it.
Take just enough fish to feed your family and not rape the water to feed the entire neighborhood. I’ve fished long enough and hard enough to realize how these fish populations have been hurt buy simply being overfished and it’s time we all consider what is causing it!
The number of people that are hurting fish populations by being “fish hogs” need to reevaluate what they are doing to area fish populations and understand what needs to be done!