Bis deal: Ballina Fisherman’s Co-Op manager Phil Hilliard shows off the results of a bumper prawn season now threatened by poor conditions encountered crossing the Ballina bar.
Bis deal: Ballina Fisherman’s Co-Op manager Phil Hilliard shows off the results of a bumper prawn season now threatened by poor conditions encountered crossing the Ballina bar. Jay Cronan

Ballina bar traps trawlers

POOR conditions for the past eight weeks have dashed what promised to be a bumper prawn season for trawlers at Ballina, according to the manager of the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-op, Phil Hilliard.

Optimism has pervaded the industry this season with catch size and product size some of the best seen in years, but because of the Ballina bar many trawlers have been confined to port.

“We’ve been having a good season but the last eight weeks have been tough,” Mr Hilliard said.

“The weather and the bar have been the problem. Some boats haven’t gone out knowing they won’t be able to get back in.

“I think some have only been able to go out three days in the past two weeks.

“When the weather has been fine it’s been the wrong day to go out for the prawns.”

According to the Ballina Coast Guard the swell and state of the bar have combined to make conditions tricky for the past couple of months.

While the local fishers are raving about the size and catch of local prawns, Clarence River prawn fishers have stopped their season weeks early.

The small size of prawns in the Clarence have been the concern with scientific testing failing to clarify the mystery.

Ballina fishers will be forced to head further north as the waters off the coast turn colder.

“There is no real break for Ballina,” Mr Hilliard said.

“The prawns start to die off in the winter but many of the boats will go into waters off Queensland and keep going.”



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