Fish haven to be fenced
ILLEGAL fishermen who plunder the rich stocks near the Rockhampton Barrage will soon have to find a new hunting ground.
Councillors yesterday voted 10 to one to back a proposal to divert funding so the fish ladder could be fenced off.
Home owners with properties along the southern bank of the Fitzroy near the barrage will be consulted about the precise location of a long, high fence to keep fishermen at bay.
Cr Stephen Schwarten withdrew his proposal for a three-metre-high fence topped with barbed wire in favour of a 2.2-metre fence and increased closed-circuit television coverage of the exclusion zone.
Councillors were told it would cost an estimated $45,000 to pay for the measures and that funds could be transferred from an experimental barrage cathodic protection scheme - effectively meaning that the beefed up security could be implemented immediately.
But Cr Graeme Brady said he wanted to see public consultation.
"Some people who live nearby have called me to raise concerns about fencing and I think we need to work with them to solve this problem," he said.
Others agreed and councillors voted to consult the public, consider future accessibility along the river and tick off a final design for the fence before it was built.
Cr Schwarten has campaigned strongly in recent months for action to halt the practice of fishing at the ladder.
There are signs warning it is illegal to fish within 400 metres of the barrage, but these are often ignored because it is easy to catch barramundi and other species there.
"There is a cry from the community about this," said Cr Schwarten.
"We can talk about process until the cows come home but the public expects some action on this and if we delay we will look ridiculous. We might as well put up a sign that says 'Help Yourself'.
"The longer this goes on the council will be guilty of condoning a filthy, rotten practice."