Mary River to be open for barra year-round

THE Northern Territory’s Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries, Willem Westra van Holthe, has announced the Government’s intention to open up the Mary River up for recreational barramundi fishing all year round.

At present, recreational barramundi fishing in the Mary River closes on 1 October and opens on 1 February, each year.

Mr Westra van Holthe said the Mary River was an iconic barramundi fishery and should be open all year round so that anglers can wet a line regardless of the date.

“The Mary River is an extremely healthy and very lightly fished area with less than 5% of spawning stock fished,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.

“In the 1980s a permanent barramundi fishing closure in the Mary River system was introduced for commercial operators and a seasonal closure in the Mary River system was introduced for recreational fishers. This was in response to a decline in barramundi stocks.

“A combination of good wet seasons and improved management changes have allowed the barramundi stock to recover to extremely healthy levels in the Mary River catchment.

“In 2012, the Country Liberals Government closed Chambers and Finke to commercial barramundi fishing, effectively removing any impact on Barramundi stocks from the commercial fishery in the Mary River area.

“Under the proposal, anglers will be able to head to the Mary River from ‘barramundi to Sunday’ all year round!

“For those who fish from Shady Camp, your chances of landing a ‘Shady Lady’ just increased.”

The removal of seasonal barramundi fishing in Mary River has been endorsed by the Barramundi Fishery Management Advisory Committee and the Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee.

The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) has also welcomed the decision, via a released statement.

“This announcement is a great day for recreational anglers in the Territory as well as visiting anglers and the tourism industry” said AFANT President Warren de With.

“AFANT has advocated strongly for the removal of the seasonal closure on the Mary River since the establishment of the recreational only barramundi fishing in Chambers and Finke Bays.”

“We see this as an important step to gain a much greater return and value from the Chambers and Finke Bay recreational only areas, as well as spreading the recreation fishing effort and pressure during the buildup and early runoff periods.”

“AFANT believes that the removal of the seasonal closure on the lower Mary River will offer some spectacular fishing opportunities and will add to the standing of the Mary River as a world class fishing destination,” said Mr de With.

A public consultation period will now take place and the Minister is calling on all parties with an interest to make submissions.

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