Govt to maintain ban on commercial nets in creeks, estuaries

SANITY prevails.

That's how The Northern Star's fishing correspondent, Tony Zann, responded to the State Government's announcement it will retain a ban on commercial netting in sensitive creeks and estuaries.

In 2012 the government's Report of Commercial Fisheries Policy, Management and Administration suggested opening up the Evans River, Jerusalem Creek (in Bundjalung National Park), Mooball Creek, Cudgen Creek and others to commercial netting.

But on Thursday, Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson announced the existing bans would remain in place, saying it followed recommendations from the Structural Adjustment Review Committee.

Mr Zann labelled the initial proposal "ridiculous" and said Evans Head relies on tourism dollars, partly due to recreational fishing, to keep the town alive.

"There's talk about bringing more people to the area, like Ballina, but you can't even really fish there because there's so much commercial fishing going on and the water quality is not good," the Evans Head fisherman said.

"If this went ahead we would have seen a drastic decline in our tourism industry.

"If anything, all these waterways need to be made recreational fishing havens to prevent them from overexploitation and under-management."

Despite the welcome news, Mr Zann was concerned Ms Hodgkinson made no mention of an additional proposal to allow commercial trapping of crabs and fish.

Richmond Valley Anglers Action Group spokesman John Larsson said the announcement was good news and he would keep a close eye on how the government proceeds with further reform.

Ms Hodgkinson said the NSW Government had listened to feedback and issues raised as part of a comprehensive consultation process.

"During this consultation process, concerns were raised about commercial industry driven proposals in the reform option papers to allow the use of meshing nets in certain estuaries where it is currently not permitted," Ms Hodgkinson said.

She claimed continued reforms in the commercial fishing industry are necessary because of mistakes made by the Labor government.

"Labor got the commercial fishing industry into a mess by over-allocating shares in 2007 and bungling a $1.5 million exit grant process in 2010," she said.

The NSW Nature Conservation Council campaigns director Daisy Barham was pleased to see the government renege on the plan and said it should have never been suggested.

Topics:  fishing

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