Phil Hilliard
Phil Hilliard

Pipi fall-off no fault of fishing

BALLINA Fishermen's Co-Op general manager Phil Hilliard sees red every time someone links the declining pipi population on Far North Coast beaches to commercial harvesting.

"The implication is that commercial fishing has destroyed the pipi popu- lation, but there hasn't been any commercial pipi harvesting on South Ballina Beach since 2005," Mr Hilliard said.

He was responding to a report in The Northern Star last Thursday in which Ballina Shire Greens councillor Jeff Johnson and Ballina Coastcare's Dr Lee Andresen urged the NSW Government to extend the ban on commercial pipi harvesting in NSW.

Mr Hilliard believes the ban, which expires on June 1, should be lifted.

"The ban has no effect," he said.

"All it is doing is promoting the misconception that commercial harvesting is responsible for the decline in the pipi population."

Mr Hilliard said that of only four remaining fishermen licensed to harvest pipis in the two FNC fishing zones, one had retired and another was now working off his trawler and unlikely to return to the beach.

The four were originally prevented from harvesting because toxins in the water were making the molluscs unfit to eat.

"All evidence points to poor water quality being the biggest cause of the decline. Clean up our rivers and oceans and we will see the pipis return, if it's done soon," he said.

Mr Hilliard also said the illegal harvesting of pipis should be subject to a greater focus by compliance officers.

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