Youths ignore the signs and fish illegally at the barrage. It will cost $45,000 to fence them out.
Youths ignore the signs and fish illegally at the barrage. It will cost $45,000 to fence them out. Allan Reinikka

Cost to stop fish thieves: $45,000

IT WILL cost an estimated $45,000 to beef up security near the Rockhampton Barrage to prevent illegal fishing, councillors will be told today.

Cr Stephen Schwarten is urging his colleagues to support his proposal to fence off the southern bank of the river near the barrage to stop people raiding stocks at the fish ladder.

He wants them to approve a three metre high fence along the bank.

"While a high fence may not offer a complete solution, it will surely make it more difficult for offenders to escape and therefore much easier for them to be apprehended," he says in a background report supporting his proposal.

Reports of youths plundering the fish ladder have stirred up anger among the fishing fraternity.

Cr Schwarten describes the practice as "despicable" and akin to "shooting fish in a barrel".

Yesterday the council issued a statement confirming it is an offence to swim within 200 metres upstream of the barrage and 400 metres downstream.

Fishing is also banned within 400 metres of the barrage and carries a $200 fine as penalty.

It says the area is patrolled regularly by community compliance officers and there is CCTV coverage of the area. But that has not deterred those determined to cash in on the easy pickings at the ladder.

A separate report to today's meeting of the full council says that there is relatively easy access to the southern bank.

The report, by Fitzroy River Water's Jason Plumb, suggests a "significant upgrade of the fencing along the southern bank downstream of the barrage" to protect what he refers to as a critical piece of council infrastructure.

He says a 200 metre long, 2.2 metre high fence of wire mesh and barbed wire would provide the physical barrier necessary to protect the fish.

It would cost about $45,000, but with no money in the existing budget to pay for it, Mr Plumb recommends councillors consider committing to it in the 2012/13 budget.



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