Mulloway massacre!

THE NSW Government will be considering allowing commercial netters to continue to take juvenile mulloway while imposing harsh restrictions on anglers as concerns grow about stock levels of this iconic inshore sportfish.

According to info Fisho received last week, a steering committee dominated by commercial interests will put forward a proposal to allow netters to take mulloway from 45 to 75cm in length.

There is some confusion as to exactly how many mulloway each commercial operator will be allowed each day. Some sources indicate as many as 50 fish, others say 30. Fisho last week contacted the office of NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson seeking urgent clarification of the proposal. To date we have not received a response.

According to the information Fisho received, recreational anglers would be allowed one mulloway over 75cm long per day.

The current bag limit for anglers is five fish in total with two over 70cm. Fisho understands that commercial operators can take as many fish as they like over 45cm.

There has been significant concern for some years that mulloway stocks in NSW need urgent management action. Scientific data indicates that mulloway reach breeding size at about 70-75cm. The current 45cm size limit means that fish are taken well before they reach maturity, which has obvious implications for the long-term viability and sustainability of the stock.

Juvenile mulloway are known as “soapies” because of their unpleasant taste. Larger fish lose this “soapy” flavour and are highly rated as a food fish.

Fisho understands Minister Hodgkinson will consider the proposal once it is officially submitted to her. There is no indication as yet when this will be.

The Minister has courted controversy in recent times with her decisions to close the Cronulla fisheries offices and to re-allow commercial netting of Australian salmon, previously a rec-only species, for trap bait.

Fisho has been told that the commercial sector will use a “financial hardship” argument to back their push to continue to exploit mulloway stocks.

Angling groups made aware of the mulloway proposal have expressed outrage over the commercial sector’s plans to continue targeting juvenile jewfish.

Allan Hansard, the CEO of the Australian Fishing Trade Association, said the proposal was “a significant concern” and “seemed to defy all scientific logic”.

“We’ll be seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Hodgkinson to put forward as strongly as possible our very grave concerns about this issue. There are serious questions about the long-term sustainability of NSW’s mulloway stocks if continued commercial exploitation of juvenile fish is allowed. We need to make the Minister aware that the Australian tackle industry will not condone any decisions that put valuable fish stocks at risk.”

Concerned anglers wishing to contact the Minister about this issue can send emails to, phone (02) 9228 5210 or fax (02) 9228 5969.

We’ll publish more info on this issue as soon as it comes to hand. Meanwhile, check out Jim Harnwell’s comment piece on the jewie issue HERE.

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