Home' Afloat : November 2013 Contents Take monthly with water November 2013 53
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
The new marina extension will include a mixture of berth sizes
ranging from 8m up to our largest current berth of 25m.
• Water • Power • Car parking • Wheel barrows • Sewerage Pump out
• 24 Hour Diesel and Premium Unleaded with credit card facility
• Fish cleaning facilities • 24/7 Shower and toilet access
• All weather boat ramp • Wi-Fi • Security patrolled • Slipway
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or
call the Marina on 0409 090 712 for further information.
St George Motor Boat Club
NEW MARINA EXTENSION
OPENING OCTOBER 2013
Foras long as anglers have been wetting a line the mighty
mulloway or jewfish has been a prized catch. Gargantuan
specimens that anglers could barely lift, with scales bigger
than a 50¢ piece, graced the cover of old angling digests. Every
fisher worth his or her salt dreamed of landing that whopper.
Such was the reverence with which big jewfish were held that
locals at Pearl Beach, at the mouth of Broken Bay, etched the
details of their trophy captures into old pine trees that lined the
verge. I know, because we had a place at Pearl Beach and those
fishing brags used to stir my imagination well into the night.
Some years later, intrepid anglers and authors Gene and
Gwen Dundon became synonymous with landing legendary
jewfish from around Box Head across the bay. They’d be posing
with fish as long and wide as a grown man, landed on a feather
jig during flood times, and somehow carried out.
But all this is a fading memory. Mulloway stocks in NSW
are currently assessed as being overfished and catching a big
one is a rarity. A recovery program will now be implemented to
assist with rebuilding the population to a safe level, says the
Department of Primary Industries (DPI). But are they targeting
the minnows while the big fish get away?
You see, the state’s anglers have just had the mulloway size
limit increased by a huge margin and the bag limit slashed by
more than half. Catching a big mulloway is hard enough, but
now there are tighter restrictions on taking the small ones, too.
From November 1, the size limit of mulloway increased from
the current 45cm to 70cm. That’s a big jump and a mulloway of
this length will tip the scales to around 2.5 -3kg. Not that you
can keep that many mulloway, mind you. At the same time, the
recreational bag limit for mulloway more than halves, from five
fish per angler per day, to just two fish.
In so doing, the days of coming home with a basket of
small jewfish, the so-called soapies than inhabit places like
the Hawkesbury, is no more. The mums and dads fishing with a
long-dead prawn around the Road and Rail bridges, who land a
jewfish from the river, will likely have to set the fish free.
By far the majority of jewfish caught in the popular Hawkesbury
measure around the 50cm mark. Thankfully anglers aren’t the
only ones in the firing line. Commercial fishers will have to abide
by the new size limit, too. Having said that, there’s some curious
dispensation in the new rules that permits commercial estuary
mesh netters to retain up to 10 mulloway from 45-70cm as by-catch.
The rationale given for this allowable undersized by-catch is
to avoid wastage, says DPI. If that’s the case, then why return any
of the fish that are inevitably dragged in dead in those gill nets?
Mesh netting results in a very high mortality rate. Why not increase
the mesh size to give the undersized fish a chance to escape?
“ The new rules, for commercial and recreational fishing
sectors, are based on scientific advice and information sourced
from extensive consultation with the fishing community,” Fisheries
Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said in her media release.
Yet what sane scientist would permit an allowable 500
kilogram limit for mulloway caught by commercial fishers holding
an Ocean Hauling endorsement. The mulloway they land on the
beaches in their nets are the big breeders and brood stock that
will spawn future generations of fish. Again, its difficult to fathom
this thinking behind this allowable catch.
Of the 497 submissions the department received to its
Discussion Paper for Mulloway Recover y Program, there were just
37 submissions from those with a commercial fishing interest.
Of those, 14 identified concerns over wastage of fish under the
proposed new restrictions. Given the allowable by-catch that
minority got their way.
Yet there were 120 submissions supporting a ban on some
or all forms of estuary netting for mulloway and 97 submissions
calling for a ban on ocean hauling for mulloway altogether. And 187
submissions did not support any commercial by-catch allowance.
So how are the commercial rules indicative of the consultation?
Clearly, anglers’ voices weren’t heard and the Minister, fast
gaining a reputation for supporting commercial fishers first,
has targeted the hapless angler with a hook and line. Good
luck catching a mulloway over 70cm. And if you do, remember
you can only keep two. Time will tell if this really is a mulloway
recover y program.
Bag limits slashed while minimum size increased
on the so-called road to recovery
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