Beach mullet haul angers locals

THERE’S been a renewed call to end beach hauling after several tonnes of mullet was left to sit on the sand at Newcastle’s Stockton beach for more than five hours on Easter Sunday.

The Newcastle Herald reports rec fisherman and Wallsend man Noel Gain was on a regular walk near the Stockton breakwall on Sunday morning when he saw the mass of dead fish lying on the shore. The Easter haul itself wasn’t a strange sight to Mr Gain, but the high level of ‘‘waste’’ when he returned five-and-a-half hours later was.

A group of professional fishermen had sorted through some of the mullet, selling a few to passers-by, but the rest baked in the sun for a large chunk of the day. At 3pm, the haul was put into a truck and carted off, but by then the fish were ‘‘certainly not fit for human consumption’’.

‘‘With all the restrictions put on recreational fishermen, it seems ridiculous that professionals can treat fish in such an ill manner,’’ Mr Gain said.

‘‘I think beach hauling should be finished. It’s indiscriminate.’’

Though similar commercial fishing groups flock to Stockton and other beaches every year, this was the first time they didn’t even try to put the fish on ice, Mr Gain said.

Outspoken Fingal Bay fishing identity John ‘‘Stinker’’ Clarke, claims catching mullet with a beach haul was sustainable. The catch, which begins in April and continues for several months, is taken to fish markets in Sydney or transported to China.

‘‘The records show that catching mullet, which has been going on for 100 years, is a sustainable practice,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I support sustainable commercial fishing.’’

Herald article and image at:

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