Local fish stocks on the slide



BALLINA fisherman Brian Newlands is pondering the future following another late run of mullet in the Richmond River and a second season of poor catches.

"It seems to be getting later and later every year. I reckon it's global warming," Mr Newlands said.

He said last year was the poorest catch in his 30 years netting mullet and 2007 wasn't looking good.

"You've got to catch a lot just to make wages," he said. When the mullet are 'on the run' they're a prize export catch.

The Department of Fisheries issued two mulleting permits this year.

The fishermen gather near Missingham Bridge in Ballina and wait for schools of mullet to begin spawning. They row out in small boats, cast hand nets and haul their catch up onto the beach.

A shot can net 20 tonnes and landing 100 tonnes is a good season. But with temperatures unseasonably high, Brian Newlands has only landed seven tonnes so far this year. "We need a big change in weather, like a westerly, to bring the fish down," he said.



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