The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) has fully supported the proposed changes to the Barramundi Management Plan to Remove the Mary River Seasonal Closure for Recreational Anglers in our submission provided to the NT government fisheries division today.
We see this as an important opportunity to further enhance the access and opportunities for recreational fishing over the buildup and early wet season to this iconic barramundi fishing area.
In supporting these changes we have pointed out that this has been a long standing priority for the recreational sector. We are firmly of the view that the changes in attitudes that have resulted in a high rate of catch and release angling, particularly for large barramundi, along with proactive and careful management of the barramundi stocks mean that these changes will have minimal effect on the sustainability of the resource .
The combination of retaining the current recreational possession limits on barramundi in the Mary River of three fish per person, combined with the recent removal of all commercial barramundi fishing in Chambers and Finke Bays has significantly reduced the harvest effort from this system. We believe these efforts will see an improvement to the stocks in the Mary River, Chambers and Finke Bays from an already relatively healthy level.
AFANT also supports other management options going forward to ensure the Mary River area continues to be recognised as a world class recreational fishing destination. We see that this reputation will only be enhanced into the future as the fish stocks improve.
The AFANT submission has outlined that we would like to see the consideration of measures to be introduced like maximum sizes and vessel limits as outlined in the AFANT code of conduct for the Mary River.
One of the other benefits we believe will be achieved with the removal of the closed season on the Mary River is the reduction in effort in other areas that are currently open to recreational fishing all year.
AFANT has committed to working with fisheries to ensure the required stock assessment information and research is available to manage the Mary River and Chambers and Finke Bays recreational only fishery, including ensuring catch and effort data and fish tagging is undertaken.
AFANT looks forward to the removal of the closed season on the lower Mary River and we believe the changes should be made as soon as possible.
The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) welcomes the decision by the Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries the Hon. Willem Westra Van Holthe today on the government plans to remove the Mary River seasonal closure.
“This announcement is a great day for recreational anglers in the Territory as well as visiting anglers and the tourism industry” said AFANT President Warren de With.
“AFANT has advocated strongly for the removal of the seasonal closure on the Mary River since the establishment of the recreational only barramundi fishing in Chambers and Finke Bays.”
The recreational seasonal closure and the total removal of commercial netting from the lower Mary River and the coast near the Sampan and Tommycut creek mouths was put in place after a major decline in barramundi stocks during the 1980s. These and other management changes like possession limits have seen the Mary River barramundi stocks show a great and sustained recovery.
AFANT believes that the removal of all commercial barramundi fishing from Chambers and Finke Bays along with close monitoring of the barra and threadfin stocks, allows further removal the original management controls without effecting the sustainability or quality of the spectacular recreational fishing this area offers.
“We see this as an important step to gain a much greater return and value from the Chambers and Finke Bay recreational only areas, as well as spreading the recreation fishing effort and pressure during the buildup and early runoff periods.”
“AFANT believes that the removal of the seasonal closure on the lower Mary River will offer some spectacular fishing opportunities and will add to the standing of the Mary River as a world class fishing destination.”
“AFANT welcomes the government’s announcement as a positive step to further enhance the great Territory lifestyle and recreational angling opportunities we have in the Territory.” Mr de With said.
The following is a link to the proposed changes.
AFANT takes it very serious its role in protecting the quality of the recreational fishing in the NT including the heath of the rivers waterways and coastal environments.
We are active in scrutinising environmental approvals and assessments and ensuing that companies comply with the commitments that they make in these documents.
On a recent trip to the Roper / Mcarthur area I had the opportunity to visit a couple of the NT’s mines that AFANT was heavily involved with during the approval process, while we understand that the very nature of the mining activity is that there will be some impact on the environment the following photos show a level of impact that AFANT believes is totally unacceptable.
The attached photos show the windblown dust from the Western Desert Resources loading facility at Bing Bong, we fully acknowledge that iron ore dust is less of a threat than other minerals but this is not an acceptable situation in a sensitive coastal environment.
The following was AFANT’s concerns that we raised during the EIS process
“Ore spill prevention and dust suppression at the Bing Bong stockyard, overland conveyor and barge loader should also be addressed as significant risk areas. We note that the barge loading process will not utilise a closed loading system and it will therefore be necessary to carefully mange ore moisture content and loading procedures to ensure dust is not generated that can spread in the Bing Bong Port and adjacent coastal environment.”
It is disappointing that the concerns AFANT raised at this time have not been adequately addressed.