Season to stay as is

CLARENCE River prawn fishermen voted yesterday not to open the river to prawn trawling until the usual season opening of the Monday closest to December 1 - that's November 28, this year.

Executive officer of the Professional Fisherman's Association John Harrison chaired the special meeting yesterday which voted 17 to 13 against a motion which sought to open the river three weeks early.

Mr Harrison said the pocket netting of prawns (netting usually fixed to the riverbank) began in August and there was a mix of net fishermen, trawler fishermen and those that did both at the meeting.

He said several prawn netters put forward a case that once the trawlers started, their nets stopped being effective but several others at the meeting disagreed with this.

The Examiner heard from one fisherman last week who was concerned an early season opening could potentially deplete stocks before the lucrative Christmas season.

Mr Harrison said there were about 45 active prawn fishing endorsements in the Clarence River with many more inactive endorsements.

A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Primary Industries yesterday said it would support the decision.

"A provision in the Estuary Prawn Trawl Share Management Plan gives the DPI discretion to extend the estuary prawn trawling season in the Clarence by up to 15 days at the start or at the end (or a combination thereof)," the spokesperson said.

"DPI has consulted with industry representatives and given the industry an opportunity to determine whether to open the river to trawling early.

"The industry's view, determined through a vote held during a meeting of interested fishers this morning, was to not open early.

"DPI will not open the Clarence River early to prawn trawling following the industry's decision."

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