Fishermen stunned by mullet catch
CLARENCE River professional fishers caught so many mullet in their annual spawning run this year the fishermen’s co-op could not process them all, a parliamentary inquiry into recreational fishing heard yesterday.
Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-operative chairman David Anderson told members of the Select Committee into Recreational Fishing that Clarence fishermen had caught an estimated 200,000 kilograms of mullet.
He said the high catch was in part due to a good mullet season, but was magnified by the fact many fishermen had been forced to abandon river prawn trawling because of poor prawn sizes.
That in turn created further problems for fishermen. Because of difficulties processing the volume of mullet, fishermen had to stop targeting them.
“A lot of fishermen were not working,” he said.
Mr Anderson told the inquiry recreational fishing havens also had an impact on the professional sector.
“They put those havens where there is really good fishing,” he said.
“That is a concern for our security.”
Mr Anderson said water quality in the Clarence was a “huge issue” for the industry.
“It affects us all,” he said.
Areas that once provided reliable fishing now produced little, he said.
Inquiry chairman and Shooters Party MP Robert Brown said that from the hearings so far it appeared recreational and professional fishers had rarely come together to discuss areas where there was common ground.
Another, he said, was an apparent lack of science in the establishment of marine parks.
“The Government’s own documentation shows the research hasn’t been done,” he said.
“It appears to have been a process that has been handled badly.”
The committee will hand down its findings at the end of November.
The committee continued to hear evidence at the Grafton Community Centre well into the night.