New netting scandal!

Beach haulers accused of slaughtering jewies and tailor, dumping undersize bream

Anglers on the NSW mid North Coast are outraged over reports that netters working the region’s beaches are illegally targeting and dumping undersized fish.

Fisho understands ocean haulers have been taking large hauls of juvenile mulloway washed out of the Manning River after recent heavy rains.

North Coast beach netters have also allegedly been targeting tailor, a line-only species, with one report claiming more than 100 boxes of the fish have been illegally netted. NSW Fisheries regs stipulate that less than 100 kilos of tailor can be kept as daily “bycatch” by commercial netters.

Fisho understands that a large number of tailor were recently targeted and netted by an ocean haul crew at Black Smith Beach near Swansea. The incident was reportedly witnessed by members of the public and also by other commercial fishers who we understand were “annoyed” by what appeared to be the intentional illegal targeting of a line only species. Unverified reports indicate that the netters claimed they thought the tailor were bream or blackfish and didn’t realise they were tailor until they were on the beach.

Large numbers of undersized bream have reportedly been dumped in bushland near Seal Rocks by netting crews (see accompanying image). This follows a recent scandal on the NSW South Coast involving estuary netters removing huge numbers of black bream from several fragile landlocked systems. Images of undersized bream which have been cut up so they sink in the water have gone viral on social media sites. Threats of violence against anglers have reportedly been made by individuals purporting to represent the commercial fishing sector. See story and images HERE.

This latest controversy over what appears to be illegal and unsustainable beach hauling puts further pressure on embattled NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to address issues within the state’s commercial fishing sector. The Minister is under fire following a recent decision to allow “unrestricted” commercial take of flathead and other species. Sustained pressures from outraged anglers and commonwealth fisheries operators forced the Minister to make an embarrassing back flip. See full story HERE.

The Minister has also copped significant criticism for failing to address the conflict brewing between the recreational and commercial sectors over estuary netting. Fisho has requested comments from the Minister on the issue but has received no response.

Reports about beach haulers targeting large schools of small and possibly undersize mulloway has angered recreational fishing groups. NSW anglers are pushing for better management of the species including increases in size limits, reductions in bag limits for recreational fishers and cuts in commercial effort (especially for beach haulers targeting breeding size fish and estuary mesh netters who take large numbers of sexually immature mulloway).

Malcolm Poole, the chairman of the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW, has today contacted NSW Fisheries for details on the above beach hauling incidents. Fisho will keep you informed of any response from Fisheries officials when and if they become available.

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