Fishermen hooked on new nets
By NICOLA KERKENEZOV
CLARENCE Coast fishermen yesterday hailed a trial of an environmentally-friendly net method a success.
Trawlermen met with Carr Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald at Yamba Marina to announce the results of the three-year trial of the cod-end net.
The inexpensive, nylon-mesh nets are dragged behind a vessel to filter small prawns and unwanted fish from a trawler's catch.
Developed by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Coffs Harbour-based Conservation Technology Unit, the cod-ends have been successfully trialled by up to 40 local fishermen as well as at South West Rocks and Newcastle.
"The latest breakthrough has revealed major benefits from the use of square-shaped mesh in ocean-prawn trawl nets, as opposed to the traditional diamond-shaped mesh," the Minister said.
"This square-shaped mesh reduces the by-catch of un- wanted fish by 70 to 100 per cent, depending on the species.
"We estimate that more than 80 per cent of escaping fish, including undersized small prawns, survive. The nets also maintain levels of commercial-sized prawns, fish, squid and octopus."
The Minister and fishermen hailed the technology as a 'win for the environment and a win for the sustainability of the industry'.
Ocean-trawl fishermen Gordon Farrell, of Iluka, and Donald Anderson, of Yamba, yesterday said they would 'definitely' keep using the new nets, which were easy to operate and less damaging to catches.
"The product which comes out of the cod-ends is a lot more lively and better quality," Mr Anderson said. "It is the way of the future."
DPI chief scientist Steve Kennelly said he hoped the technology also would be exported to other countries.
"The nets look simple but a lot of work has gone into their design," he said.