Huge win for Recs in FNQ is already paying dividends

inline_33_ shark pic Holloways 19-02-2016_C724D9A0-EBE4-11E5-88A6061EFD4639D7.jpg
Paul Aubin, founder of lobby group Carefish, and son Jacques took this picture after watching the massive estimated 120cm barra doing all sorts of aerial acrobatics in front of a group of tourists who couldn’t believe their eyes. It measured 83cm to the chomp!

THE Carefish Cairns Gill Net Free Zone (NFZ) was declared 1st November 2015, and a solid recovery in fish abundance has already been observed. Locals started catching fish again within a couple of weeks and catches have been improving as around a tonne of mature fish each week has ceased being extracted by commercial operators.

The Cairns NFZ is moving into a new phase. Our NFZ is only small but is vitally located to have the maximum benefit for resource recovery as now the entire breeding, nursery and feeding areas of the extensive mangrove waterways of Trinity Inlet, the Barron River delta and the Northern Beaches are protected from gill nets (view map here). We are almost daily seeing evidence of improved catches and there’s no question that fish stocks are improving – quite rapidly it seems – as the region returns towards a more typically wild system.

Whopper barra, both blue and king threadfin, trevally, queenies and even mangrove jacks are being encountered straight off the beaches. Large predatory fish have established themselves and can be seen schooling bait into balls along the beaches, and fishers are once again getting a fair feed and plenty of action. Locals are even increasing leaders from 50 or 60lb to 80lb as they have been repeatedly busted up.

None of this could have anything to do with spawning and recruitment yet, but you can bet we can’t wait to see what will turn up with a few wet seasons under our belts. This took decades of community complaint and Carefish finally got it across the line after six years of sustained lobbying. We can all be very proud of that.

Carefish is active in Qld fishing politics and the local Cairns elections are being held this Saturday, March 19. We asked all candidates a few simple recreational fishing related questions and received overwhelming support from most. Our goal is to re-establish Cairns as one of the top places in the world to come and catch a fish of a lifetime, with inshore, reef and marlin all producing trophy fish.

As word gets out, Cairns will regain its reputation as a place where fish are abundant, and obviously that will encourage locals to engage more and also attract fishers from other areas. This is good for business, this is good for Cairns and we need council to flex its marketing and strategic muscles.

Cairns Council should be right behind this, and leading it, as is the case in Rockhampton and Mackay, however we have barely heard a squeak to date, and that is disappointing.

It would seem an unwise tactic to not talk to the electorate right before an election; the LNP tried that last state election and we all remember how that went. Well, no-one can say they weren’t given the opportunity, we’ve sent plenty of reminders.

We look forward to working closely with the new council (hopefully) to promote our region as a sensational place to visit and catch a fish of a lifetime.

More information on the NFZs in Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton can be found here.

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