Opinion: It’s up to us to stop the nets

IF you enjoy fishing at places like Merimbula Lake, Cudgen Creek, Mooball Creek, the Evans River, Jerusalem Creek, the Clarence River, Boambee Creek, Newport Creeks, Bonville Creek, Pine, the Nambucca River, Warrell Creek, the Macleay River, Port Stephens, Tuggerah Lakes, the Hawkesbury River, Lake Illawarra, the Shoalhaven River, the Crookhaven River, the Moruya River, Wallaga Lake, Coila Lake, Wapengo Lake, Wallagoot Lake and Bournda Lagoon, then you need to tell NSW Fisheries that you don’t want these areas netted.

These systems are slated to either get opened up to commercial netting, or to be subjected to increased netting activity, as part of a raft of commercial fishing “reforms” being proposed by NSW Fisheries.

This reform package is a complex and contentious policy agenda aimed at making the commercial fishing sector more efficient. The proposed changes to netting regulations, which also include amendments to beach hauling rules and proposals to haul net species like kingfish, were designed as a “sweetener” to help the commercials adjust to the major changes proposed for their industry.

Anglers should be rightly concerned that NSW Fisheries is considering trading our fishing rights in order to compensate commercial operators affected by the NSW Government’s reform package.

But concerns over the inequity of this situation need to be put on the backburner. The key issue at present is stopping the netting increases.

It needs to be noted that the netting changes are part of an “options package”. At this stage of the game, they are not a done deal. However, these changes are on the table – and they won’t be off the table until after public submissions to the reform package close on May 30.

There are rumours in the rec fishing community that places like Lake Merimbula are now safe due to public protest and behind-the-scenes deal making. This is not the case. Merimbula remains as one of the areas slated to be opened up for netting. The Government has made it clear it will do nothing to change this state of affairs until after May 30.

The only way to ensure that Merimbula – as well as all the other areas earmarked for extra commercial pressure – can remain as viable and sustainable recreational fisheries is for us to tell NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson that we don’t want the nets.

Send a short letter detailing your concerns to and CC

Keep Australia Fishing is also running a write-in campaign about this issue. Visit to find out more.

If you take 10 minutes to have your say, then you will have done your bit to save our estuary systems from extra netting pressure.

I’ve sent my letter. What about you? Submissions close on May 30. Don’t leave it too late …

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