Anti-netting call louder as fish dumping makes news

PUBLIC opposition to commercial netting in NSW estuary systems is mounting, following a recent report by Fishing World of incidents of hundreds of bream dumped in bushland at Seal Rocks on the mid North Coast.

The incident followed an outcry over the discovery of dumped bream near Narooma and recent large scale haul netting of black bream in landlocked lakes on the far South Coast.

The Seal Rocks dumping incident was reported in the Newcastle Herald this week with the report stating the practice was widespread. 

Recreational fishermen operating between Seal Rocks and Port Stephens confirmed the practice of dumping bycatch was common, the Herald reported.

“They are meant to return the fish to the water dead or alive but it’s just too much trouble so they normally bury them,” one fisherman said.

“It’s absolutely destroying our fisheries but anyone who speaks out about it risks getting their house burned down.”

Jason Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse, at Marks Point, said the dumping of bycatch was an insult to recreational fishers who paid licence fees and were subject to fines for keeping under-sized fish.

“Haul netting of fish like this that are spawning up and down the coast is an abomination,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the people who are paying for a fishing licence can’t catch a bream.”

A Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said the department hoped to prosecute those responsible for the incident.

“It is disappointing considering that fishers by law are able to use more selective nets that significantly reduce incidental catches of juvenile target species such as bream.”

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