Barra off-limits to all according to Rockhampton fisherman

FISHING FIBS: Rockhampton commercial fisherman Dave Swindells sets the record straight on fishing laws.
FISHING FIBS: Rockhampton commercial fisherman Dave Swindells sets the record straight on fishing laws. Allan Reinikka Rokafishing

ROCKHAMPTON commercial fisherman Dave Swindells wants to set the record straight on fishing laws.

He read an sms printed in The Morning Bulletin on Monday about the rules surrounding fishing in barramundi season for recreational and amateur fisherman.

The sms read: "Shock horror MRC? Barra caught out of season then released by amateur fishermen. You may find that ignorant bloke in the mirror. Pro fishermen can legally keep and sell their by-catch which is now barra, but it's all okay as their nets are only targeting other species like king and the barra know just to swim around the nets now that it's closed season. Just a reality check old mate."

Dave said this was completely wrong.

"Some people from both sectors had been working towards building a good relationship between each other for a few years now," Dave said on Thursday.

"This was to bring about a better understanding of each other's rights. (But) all this does is set back the relationship that we have been trying to build on."

A commercial fisherman in the region for more than 14 years, Dave said there was a state review of the commercial and recreational fishing sector underway as we spoke.

"One of the things on the agenda is regional management and for this to work we need to have a working relationship between recreational and commercial fishers," he said.

"The commercial sector are not allowed to set nets in the river system during the barra closure, which runs for these months. If any commercial fisherman was to catch a barra even in the open ocean he would have to release it, as there is no such thing as by-catch. As a matter of fact there has been a number of nets confiscated over the last few weeks, none of which were commercial nets."

One of the directors for the Queensland Seafood Industry Association said just to have a licence as a commercial fisherman alone costs $2000 each year.

"It's getting harder to make a living," he said.

"The Queensland Seafood Industry Association has made a submission to MRAG, who are the consultants to the Queensland Government, to review all Queensland fishing regulations for possible changes of rules. It's just all of the red tape."

Dave said the Fitzroy River is closed 365 days a year to commercial fishing upstream of Gavial Creek and is a recreational only area.

"Downstream from Gavial Creek to the cut-through is also closed to commercial fishing for 164 days a year," he said.

"This is virtually half a year. All of the river is closed for barra fishing which is set net fishing for 92 days a year.

"There are only 130 set net licences in Queensland excluding the Gulf.

"There's 135 drift net licences, and drift net licences aren't allowed to keep barramundi."

Topics:  barra fishing outdoor-living rockhampton

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