Concern over proposed bait harvesting increase

THE Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc (AFANT) has raised concerns over a proposal to further develop a small pelagic fish and squid fishery in the Northern Territory.

“Small pelagic fish and squid are a key component in the food web which drives all of the blue water game and reef fish productivity in the NT. Commercially targeting these species has the real potential to impact on the food sources and the food chain for recreationally important species.” Said AFANT President Warren de With.

“‘Find the bait, find the fish’ is a key principle of fishing blue water in the NT. Any commercial activity or harvest that affects the productivity or availability of the bait species will affect the quality of the recreational fishing blue water experience.”

“As the government has identified in the issues paper, fisheries does not have sufficient information to make an informed judgment on the capacity of the small pelagic species in the NT to sustain particular levels of harvest.”

“Any decision by government to develop this fishery must be extremely conservative as the government has identified they do not have the full required scientific information to make informed decisions.”

“AFANT has called on the NT Government to adopt best practice standards in the developing fishery in the NT to ensure no light or fad attractors can be used in conjunction with purse seine nets.”

“Maximum gear size for purse seine nets, including length and drop, should be mandated as part of a development licence condition, strict and enforceable measures of ‘catch and move on’ should be mandated to ensure no risk of localised depletion.”

“AFANT has also raised concerns with potential interaction with other popular recreational species like the important pelagic species; marlin, sailfish, mackerel and tuna as well as reef fish which rely on the bait schools.”

“AFANT has called on fisheries for a zero impact on recreational fishing from any moves to expand the harvest of bait fish in the NT.” Mr de With said.

Read related AFANT submission HERE.

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