Should recreational nets be banned?
An opinion piece with Mike Stevens
Many Tasmanian fishermen remember how easy it was to catch a feed of fish back in the day. Parents cherished teaching their children how to fish and took pride in Tasmania’s fisheries. But things have changed, and our fisheries just aren’t what they used to be. Bag limits are tightening and size restrictions are getting stricter. Phasing out recreational gillnets need to be part of this effort to bring our fish back because they simply don’t allow the ‘limit your catch, don’t catch your limit’ approach required to look after our fish stocks in today’s times.
Fishing favourites Bastard Trumpeter, Blue Warehou and Banded Morwong, are all at historic lows and are vulnerable to gillnetting. Over one third of all fish caught using gillnets is thrown away – wasted. In the case of Banded Morwong and some sharks, around 90% are discarded. These are fish that need to be growing into breeders.
Among the thousands of animals and fish caught and killed by gillnets each year, are protected penguins, seabirds, dolphins and skates. These animals are an important part of Tassie’s island environment and our tourism industry, and their deaths from gillnets isn’t necessary.
You can’t fish for the future when you can’t control what you catch, and with our waters under pressure, we need to think about the best ways to ensure we can catch a feed today, and be sure our grandkids will be able to do the same in the future.
Areas that have banned gillnetting in Tasmania have experienced an increase in fish abundance, so not only does the fishing get better but the marine environment gets healthier too. We haven’t seen Atlantic salmon escapes nearly as often in recent years, so the use of nets to mop up these fish (and everything else that might swim past) just means more bycatch, and less salmon.
It’s the right time to phase out recreational gillnetting across Tassie and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, more abundant and productive Tasmanian coast.
This will improve the fishery for future generations. Please support it.
Sign the petition at www.recnetfree.com