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Welcome to CoilaWatch

 

COILAWATCH:
The COILAWATCH group is worried that the Coila Creek sanctuary zone (above) is being
illegally fished and have asked that Tuross Head and Coila community to be vigilant
and report any illegal activity straight away:

If you see any or know of any illegal fishing activity
contact FisheriesWatch hotline 1800 043 536


If you have immediate concerns of a crime occuring
please ring CrimeStoppers on
1800 333 000

 

Coila Creek Marine Park Sanctuary rules:

No fishing or collecting of any species of plant or animal is permitted within this zone by ANY PERSON.

The only activities permitted in sanctuary zones are those that do not involve the harming or taking of any plants or animals.

All fishing is prohibited in these zones so that marine life can continue to thrive and reproduce. All vessels may enter sanctuary zones, but fishing gear must be stowed. Commercial fishing nets must be covered.

Moored or anchored vessels in sanctuary zones must have all fishing lines un-rigged.

If you see any evidence of nets being put across the mouth of Coila Creek and fishing boats coming upstream to bash the water and drive fish from the Sanctuary Zone into the nets report this immediately to the numbers above as it is highly illegal - whilst the boat might not have fishing nets on board the action of "roundingup" fish is considered to be an acto of fishing and will incur the full weight of the law..



 

 

Coila Lake Commercial fishing rules

AT NO POINT IS A BOAT ALLOWED TO FISH WITHOUT NAVIGATION LIGHTS
If you know of boats fishing without navigation lights ring the Boating Services Officer immediately on 0419751855
as it is illegal to run a ANY boat at night without navigation lights. Whilst commercial fishers
might suggest they do not use lights for "traditional" reasons poachers often don't use lights for illegal reasons.

 

Splash – The meshing net must be used in a continuous manner (that is shooting, making a general disturbance around the net and then retrieving the net in the same continuous action). The meshing net cannot be left unattended. Minimum mesh size is 80mm. The maximum length of the meshing net used is 725 metres.

3 hour set – The meshing net may be left unattended for a maximum of 3 hours before the net must be attended. Minimum mesh size is 80mm. The maximum length of the meshing net used is 725 metres.

Greater than 3 hour set – The meshing net may be left unattended for a period of greater than three hours. Commonly referred to as “all night set”, the net cannot be set prior to sunset and must be retrieved, or in the process of being retrieved, by sunrise the following day. Minimum mesh size is 95mm. The maximum number of nets that can be used is three (3), with a combined total length of 725 metres.

General Purpose Hauling Nets
Two boats are normally used to catch fish using this type of net. One boat stays anchored against the shoreline, whilst the other boat moves out into the water shooting the hauling ropes and then the hauling net, out in a semi circular shape and then returns to the shoreline. That boat is normally anchored to the shore.

Once the net (not the ropes) has been shot away from the boat, the net must be continuously hauled in without any interruption or delay.

Two or more commercial fisherman haul the net back towards the shoreline, using motorised winches or by pulling the net back in by hand.

The net must be landed against a back net (a length of netting staked in the water near the shoreline). The cod end is normally tied off to hold the fish in deeper water. The fish are then scooped out of the cod end and into large boxes normally containing ice or iced slurry/water. Any fish that are meshed in the net must be removed once that part of the net is out of the water and either returned to the water or kept.

Fisherman must ensure that any fish they keep are at least the minimum size, if applicable. Some species of fish, such as Silver Biddies, have no size limit and are normally only taken by this method.

Commercial fishers using a general purpose hauling net cannot keep any garfish caught in the net.

The maximum length of a general purpose hauling net used in Coila Lake is 450 metres. The length of each of the hauling ropes used cannot be longer than the length of the net being used.

Garfish net (bullringing)
Bullringing is a method that involves shooting the net in a circle and then retrieving the net to the boat, both of which are to be completed as a continuous operation. This method is commonly used to take garfish. Fisherman can only take garfish using this type of net.
One boat is normally used in this method with one or more commercial fisherman.

Fishers always try to keep the lead line of the net on the lake bottom to stop garfish swimming underneath. They will hand haul the net in small sections to create a pocket at the side of the boat. They then scoop the garfish out of the net and into boxes that normally contain ice or iced slurry/water.

This type of net can only be used to take garfish between 1 February and 30 November each year. The maximum length of a garfish hauling net used in Coila Lake is 275 metres, with mesh between 28 and 36 mm. Hauling lines can be a maximum of 25 metres in length.

Prawn running net
A prawn running net is used to take prawns. In Coila Lake the running net is normally set perpendicular to the shoreline and is staked. Some fisherman may use two boats when using a running net. Commonly, the fisherman runs the net every half hour (depending on the number of prawns he is catching). The prawns get caught in the bag at the end of the net and are scooped into a fish box. This is a passive method and is commonly done during October to April, after the full moon.


The net cannot be set earlier than 1 hour before sunset. It must not be set within 10 metres of the high water mark.

Commercial fisherman must not leave any net stakes in the water between the hours of sunrise and 1 hour before sunset.
Commercial fishermen are also allowed to keep any fish that are caught in the net, as long as those fish do not have a size limit (for example, a leatherjacket).

The maximum length of a prawn running net used in Coila Lake is 75 metres, with mesh between 25 and 36 mm.

Fishermen choose a shot each year at a time that is determined by the local District Fisheries Officer (normally the 1st October). Once a fisherman has claimed that shot, he has the exclusive right to use that shot over any other commercial fisherman all year. Sometimes a fisherman will choose a shot that is in deep water, away from the shoreline.

If there is a dispute between fishermen over the location of the shot, the local Fisheries officer has the final say on that shots location, and who will be able to use the shot for the year.


Crab Traps, Eel Traps and Fish Traps
Commercial fisherman may use crab, eel and fish traps in Coila Lake to take any species of crab, eels and finfish. These traps are required to be marked with a float and are required to be constructed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Estuary General Share Management Plan.

If endorsed to use this type of gear, fisherman are limited to using 10 crab traps and/or 10 eel traps and/or 10 fish traps in total at any one time. Not every commercial fisherman is endorsed to use these traps.

Commercial crab, eel and fish trapping is not common in Coila Lake. A fisherman will use one boat and will move his traps around the lake to various spots to try and catch his target species.

General

No other person, other than the commercial fisherman who owns the fishing gear, or a fisheries officer, has the right to touch, lift, move, interfere with or seize any traps or nets that are set in Coila Lake. Heavy penalties apply to anyone found interfering with set fishing gear (commercial or recreational)


If you have any questions about commercial fishermen using Coila Lake, please call:
Darren Reynolds, Estuary General Commercial Fisheries Manager on 02 6691 9682 or
Paul Frank, District Fisheries Officer, Montague District on 4476 0100.


If you have questions bout the Batemans Marine Park, or the Coila Creek Sanctuary Zone, please call
Rachel Mason, Manager, Batemans Marine Park, on 4476 0801 or
Julian Brown, Senior Marine Park Officer, 02 4476 0805

To report illegal fishing activity please call the Fishers Watch Hotline on 1800 043 536

You can printout the above here



Thank you to Mathew Richardson | Supervising Fisheries Officer - South Coast
Department of Primary Industries for preparing this document

 

 

 

 

Food Handling

All fish/prawns bought ashore must comply with NSW Food Authority rules source

- Fish and prawns must be loaded into boxes made of food grade material cleaned and sanitised prior to use

- Ice is to be made from potable quality water and fish/prawns then transported, covered and stored at 5°C or less

- Food transport vehicles are maintained in a clean and sound condition so that food that is transported does not become contaminated.

- Food transport vehicles used for delivery of chilled or processed product must comply with the NSW Food Authority’s Code of Practice for the Transportation of Primary Produce and Seafood is used to assist with this.

- The vehicles refrigeration unit is serviced as required, ensuring it will maintain seafood at 5° C or less and records of any maintenance kept. If the vehicle is non-refrigerated, the product is iced so that it is maintained at 5°C or less.

If you suspect that the fish/prawns you see being removed from Coila Lake is not complying with the codes of practice in food handling contact the NSW Food Authority on 1300 552 406 providing them with details of boat and vehicle registrations.

 

Is Coila Lake being plundered ?

It is widely considered that the commercial fishing, without any quota, of an enclosed body of water such as Coila Lake is NOT environmentally sustainable.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THERE IS NO QUOTA OF FISH BEING HARVESTED FROM COILA LAKE
AND THAT THE COMMERCIAL FISHERFOLK ARE LEGALLY ABLE TO TAKE AS MUCH AS THEY WISH.

If you don't agree with this then the law has to be changed and the Dept of Fisheries
will need to be lobbied - presently these commercial fishing
families are fishing within the law that allows them to fish and run a family business.

You might ot agree with it but be that is just how it is so please don't confront the commercial fishers if they
are just going about their lawful business.

Many in Tuross have begun to lobby to have the fishing rules of Coila Lake modified.

The community have asked very pointedly for Fisheries to provide absolute and clear evidence of proactive localised reviews of catches that indicate effective and acceptable fish management practices.

Below are articles and links to media and letters regarding the activities and enquiries made by Tuross Head locals seeking evidence from the Department of primary Industry of sustainable environmental management of Coila Lake

Email to the Minister on behalf of THBOA members June 12th 2013

Dear Minister:

Like many other recreational anglers in NSW, our members have long been concerned at the level of commercial harvesting (particularly meshing, hauling and trawling) taking place in our fragile estuarine ecosystems.

It is the belief of myself and many others in the community that the intensity and sophistication of this commercial harvesting effort has increased substantially in recent years, and that it has also been concentrated more heavily on specific waterways, especially since the creation of recreational fishing areas (RFAs) and marine park sanctuary zones.

Many of us have very serious concerns about the long-term sustainability of this intense commercial harvesting effort. We also believe that there is a widespread (and growing) public perception of serious declines in estuarine and inshore fish stocks as a direct consequence of these highly visible commercial fisheries.

That negative public perception is already impacting adversely upon our businesses, and we see this negative impact growing every year as disillusioned recreational anglers turn en masse to other hobbies, or choose alternative holiday destinations (many of them inter-state and overseas).

As you will be aware, community passions are particularly strong at the moment in relation to the intensive commercial netting of relatively small estuary systems and coastal lakes that remain closed to the sea for lengthy periods of time (and therefore have extremely limited or non-existent stock recruitment of certain species).

We would argue that the “precautionary principle” should apply in such fragile systems, with a moratorium being placed on ALL forms of netting in these closed waters until the sustainability of such activities can be scientifically assessed. (We realise that it has been argued that such activities have gone on for decades without the absolute collapse of fish stocks. We would counter that argument with our assertions that these activities have recently increased in both their intensity and sophistication, and that now only remnant stocks of certain species remain in many of these waters.)

We accept the need to maintain a viable commercial fishing industry in NSW: to provide all-important regional employment opportunities, and also to supply fresh, local seafood to members of the community who don’t or can’t catch it themselves.

But we question the economic and environmental sustainability of intensive mesh, haul and trawl netting in estuaries: practices that ceased years ago in many other developed nations.

Furthermore, we argue that recreational fishing actually provides greater economic activity, generates more jobs in the regions, and returns a far higher level of social benefit to society in general than the specific forms of estuarine netting that we are objecting to.

In light of the above, we would like to close by posing THREE important questions to you and your department. My questions are:

1. Will you agree to a moratorium on all commercial netting in coastal lakes and rivers that are currently closed to the sea until a detailed scientific assessment of the long-term sustainability of these forms of fishing in such enclosed waterways (at modern levels of intensity) can be undertaken? If not, why not?

2. Can you please explain why at least a part of the funds generated from the sale of recreational anglers’ licence fees are not being made available for the buy-out of commercial netters when many in this group (commercial fishers) have indicated their willingness to accept such buy-outs, and a majority of recreational anglers appear happy to have at least a part of their fees spent in this way?

3. Can you please explain how the reduced bag limits and other increased restrictions outlined in the latest discussion paper on recreational fishing regulations in NSW represent anything more than a re-allocation of publicly-owned resources from the many (rec’ anglers) to the few (commercial fishers), at the severe detriment of businesses dependent upon a viable, healthy recreational fishery?

Thanking you in anticipation of your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,

Secretary THBOA
representing 103 THBOA members

 

Bream fishing sustainability debate rages
By Stan Gorton of Narooma News
May 29, 2013, 11:20 a.m.

 

THE debate over the sustainability of current levels of commercial netting in two of Narooma district’s iconic bream lakes is reaching fever pitch among NSW recreational anglers.
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Online coverage by Fishing World magazine and by fishing identity Steve Starling last week prompted the Department of Primary Industries to issue a lengthy statement defending the current commercial estuary fishing arrangements on Coila and Brou lakes.

Then recreational fishers from Narooma on Sunday stumbled upon up to 40 bream slashed in half, presumably to allow them to sink, on Corunna Lake.

While some immediately assumed a commercial fisher was responsible, one local ex-professional suspects it’s poachers, as the commercial fisherman who fishes Corunna is currently away and slashing and dumping undersize fish is not something licenced fishermen do.

There’s also the possibility the fish could have been caught elsewhere and dumped, especially if they were the yellowfin variety that are not so plentiful in non-tidal lakes such as Corunna.

The fish were found in about 1.5 metres of water, 200 metres south of the main boat ramp on the east side of Corunna, in a small bay where there is an access track used by professional fishermen and others.

The fish had a slight smell so perhaps they'd been in the water a couple of days and they were just under legal size.

As a backdrop to all of this is the review of recreational size and bag limits currently out for public comment, and on top of that is controversy over commercial fishing arrangements and even accusations of inadequate resourcing of NSW’s fisheries managers.

But it is commercial haul netting and the stocks of bream much treasured by recreational fishermen sparking all the debate online.

Fishing World last week reported online it had been informed that the netters have taken between 5000 and 8000 bream from the lakes, with crews taking up to 80 boxes a night.

Local professional fishermen however have said that number of boxes taken in a night was simply not possible.

Ironically, the bream fishing on Coila had been one of the best kept recreational fishing secrets with locals including fishing identity Steve Starling catching and releasing huge hauls of bream up to 50cm in length.

Ron Bakos from Bungendore is a regular visitor and keen angler, as is evident by this 48cm black bream he caught on Coila Lake earlier this year.

He contacted the Narooma News last week upset by news of netting in the lake.

“After the recent news circulating of the rape of this pristine fishery by the haul netters, it may be quite some time before I can pull a fish of this quality from that system as no doubt this fish and countless others succumbed to the nets.”

The comments have come thick and fast on his StarloFishing page on Facebook.

“We have really just started,” Mr Starling said.

“We are planning a public meeting in Tuross soon…. Most of us want the pros bought out and compensated.

“We are not trying to take away livelihoods but it’s unsustainable.”

The Department of Primary Industries responded to the controversy with a lengthy 1800 word statement, the entirety of which is posted at the end of this article.

In essence the department said while it recognised the value of recreational fishing, it stood by its current management arrangements and “It would be a shame for the community, residents and visitors to have to rely on imported fish for their fish and chips.”

The statement confirmed based on historical data, the total reported commercial catch from Coila Lake over the last three fiscal years (2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12) has been 16.3 tons, 22.2 tons and 19.2 tone, respectively - with bream accounting for roughly a third of this.

While Fishing World reported that crews of up six possibly non-local boats had been fishing the lakes, ex professional fisherman Tony Rose, whose own family still actively nets, said they were more likely to be local.

Hauling was only practiced by two local fishermen when conditions were suitable and most activity was set mesh nets.

But even so and like the department, he said hauling had been practiced sustainably for more than 30 years and when done properly did not destroy the bottom.

The technique of setting the net with a boat and hauling it slowly back to the shore using small winches and Mr Rose said net lengths had recently been reduced and larger mesh sizes let smaller fish escape.

Scientific studies on the technique were conducted on Wallaga and Corunna lakes over the last several years had there was no evidence of damage to the bottom or adverse impacts.

“It’s fully sustainable and used across NSW,” Mr Rose said.

The commercial fishers monitored fish stocks and knew when they had grown to sufficient size, with larger fish worth $7 a kilo compared to smaller fish worth $5, he said.

The crux of the problem according to Mr Rose was that while there were still around 40 active commercial fishermen, the amount of water open to them had been reduced by 75 per cent, 50 per cent to recreational fishing havens and another 25 per cent to marine parks.

Before these closures, he said the commercial fishing effort was more spread out and productive, but now the only decent thing would be to buy-out licences.

“You offer these blokes a decent buy-out offer and I bet many of them would take it, but it has to be decent and fair,” he said.

“The recreational fishers should be asking what is happening to their licence money and where is the management.”

State Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson meanwhile last week announced trip limits on commercial offshore fishermen would be wound back, drawing the ire of those concerned about sustainability, recreational and commercial.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s chief executive Simon Boag who represented Commonwealth licensed fishers explained, “It amazes us that NSW would allow their commercial fishers to take unlimited catches of many species including flathead. To this point Australian fisheries have been the best managed in the world but doing this jeopardises their sustainability in NSW particularly.”

A few days later citing “stakeholder concerns”, the minister backed down saying the current restrictions will remain.

And what of the review of recreational size and bag limits currently out for review?

A possible reduction in kingfish size limits from five to two is causing some consternation for some Narooma charter boat operators saying it will impact on tourism.

Others argue a more sustainable approach from recreational fishers is needed and the recommendation for bream bag limits to be reduced by half to 10 seems to have wider support.

Back to the Corunna bream massacre, it was only last month that Fisheries officers busted an illegal netter in the Tuross system, confiscating a punt and nets.

Fisheries has been notified of this latest case and Mr Starling has his own theories on the matter.

“While I accept that these mutilated bream may have been taken by illegal, unlicensed netters, I would ask one obvious question: if they'd already broken that many laws, why would they even bother discarding these undersized fish?

“Why wouldn't they just process them with the rest of their illicit haul?

“This reeks to me of a catch intended for sale through a co-op.”

Fisheries NSW has responded to questions from the Narooma News about the Corunna incident.

A spokesperson said Fisheries NSW on Monday received reports of a possible fish kill at Corunna Lake.

“Fisheries officers investigated the location of the report but could not observe any dead fish in the area.

“We are also aware of reports of around 20 bream being found cut in half and discarded in the area.

Fisheries officers have spoken with a number of local fishers about the incident, however a reason for the incident is still unknown.

“We remind fishers of their responsibilities when it comes to fishing, only catch fish for your immediate needs and dispose of all litter and fish waste responsibly.

“People are urged to contact their local fisheries office or the Fishers Watch Phone Line 1800 043 536 to report fish kills, illegal fishing or any other concerns.”

For more information visit http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/recreational/info/responsible-fishing-guidelines

Here's the official response on the Coila bream meshing issue from a spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries:

•The NSW Government is committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that the fisheries resources of NSW are appropriately shared.

•The fisheries resources of NSW, including those taken in the fis...hery are closely monitored.

•Hauling is a sustainable commercial fishing method that has been undertaken in south coast estuaries since at least the 1930’s. Long term commercial landings data (see attached) show that total catches in Coila Lake and surrounding estuaries typically vary over time.

•Licensed commercial fishers, who hold the appropriate endorsements in this region, are lawfully entitled to fish in these lakes and catch fish for the wider community to consume. It would be a shame for the community, residents and visitors to have to rely on imported fish for their fish and chips.

•The Government is aware of the importance of recreational fishing to coastal towns and understand the activity is a significant part of coastal tourism.

•The Department of Primary Industries is gathering more information to further examine this issue, in light of the concerns raised.

Further information:

The NSW Government is committed to conserving fish stocks while promoting ecological sustainable development. Consistent with this, the NSW Government is committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that the fisheries resources of NSW are appropriately shared between the users of those resources.

The Estuary General fishery (the fishery) is a diverse multi-species multi-method fishery that operates in some of NSW's estuarine systems. It is the most diverse commercial fishery in NSW and is a significant contributor to regional and state economies providing high quality seafood and bait to the community (including persons who do not fish recreationally). The most frequently used fishing methodsused in this fishery are mesh and haul netting. Other methods used include trapping, hand-lining and hand-gathering.

The fishery is a share management fishery and is divided geographically into seven regions from the Far North Coast to the Far South Coast of NSW. The fishery has under gone comprehensive environmental impact assessment, meeting the requirements of NSW and Commonwealth law, and these management arrangements have helped to ensure that, overall, harvests are sustainable.

The primary management controls used to assist in the long term sustainability of the fishery include a limit on the number of fishers authorised to operate in the fishery, temporal and spatial closures, gear restrictions (i.e. mesh sizes and net lengths), by-catch survival devices (i.e. discard chutes to release non-retained fish) and minimum size limits.

The fisheries resources of NSW, including those taken in the fishery are closely monitored. This includes an annual assessment of all available scientific studies, biological information, and catch and effort data for the primary species. The scientific assessments conclude that the vast majority of the key species commercially harvested in the fishery, including bream, are sustainably harvested.

Hauling is a sustainable commercial fishing method that has been undertaken in south coast estuaries since at least the 1930’s. Long term commercial landings data (see attached) show that total catches in Coila Lake and surrounding estuaries typically vary over time, likely to be associated with species recruitment success, growth and abundance, environmental conditions, and, more recently, significant changes to the number of operators (e.g. buyouts) and management arrangements.

In comparison to the historical figures, the total reported commercial catch from Coila Lake over the last three fiscal years (2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12) has been 16.3 t, 22.2 t and 19.2 t, respectively - with bream accounting for roughly a third of this (see attached).

ICOLLS (intermittent closed and open lakes and lagoons) are used on a seasonal basis by commercial fishers and during the late autumn and early winter months it is common to see haul crews working on Coila and Brou Lakes, amongst others on the south coast, targeting species such as mullet, silver biddies, bream and tarwhine.

Estuarine fish are adapted to the varying conditions experienced in ICOLLs, such as changing water levels and salinity. They can survive for many years in closed ICOLLs without the need for the entrance to be open to maintain fish stocks. Not all areas within estuary systems are suitable sites for hauling or meshing.

The Batemans Marine Park, implemented in 2007, is made up of multi-use zones. With the exception of the Coila Creek Sanctuary Zone, the rest of Coila Lake is a general use zone where normal recreational and commercial fishing rules apply. The same situation occurs in Brou Lake where there are two sanctuary zones (Brou creek and a small embayment on the north eastern shoreline) with the main body of the lake being a general use zone.

Licensed commercial fishers, who hold the appropriate endorsements in this region, are lawfully entitled to fish in these lakes and catch fish for the wider community to consume.

There are no immediate plans to create additional recreational fishing havens or change fishing arrangements in the existing havens. However, any proposals where there is consensus between local recreational and commercial fishers regarding adjustments or the creation of additional fishing havens, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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The Government is aware of the importance of recreational fishing to coastal towns and understand the activity is a significant part of coastal tourism. Various economic studies in NSW have shown the economic benefits of recreational fishing, including from anglers from the ACT and Victoria visiting towns on the South Coast.


Fisheries responds to bream netting outrage

Fishing World - 27 May 2013

News Comment: By Fisho staff writers

THE NSW Government says it has no plans to stop commercial fishers haul netting in estuaries, despite widespread angler concerns following a report of large scale netting of black bream on the NSW South Coast.

The response follows a Fishing World report last week that haul netters working the land locked Brou and Coila estuary systems had recently netted "boxes and boxes" of large black bream, many of which were believed to be up to 20 years of age. The news angered many Fisho readers and led to a flurry of online posts calling for haul netting in estuaries to be banned. The story also prompted a tirade of responses on the Fishing World website and various social media from interests aligned to the commercial sector.

Fisho today received a formal response from the NSW Department of Primary Industries which unfortunately will do little to allay angler concerns. While it could be said rec fishos on the whole wouldn't begrudge non-fishers the opportunity to be able to buy fresh fish, surely this can't be justification for allowing the continued haul netting of valuable and fragile fisheries? The NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson appears to think so, if this statement from a spokesperson in her department is anything to go by: "It would be a shame for the community, residents and visitors to have to rely on imported fish for their fish and chips."

While concerns were raised last week around the legalities of haul netting in close proximity to sanctuary zones - as exists in both the Coila and Brou systems – the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) spokesperson told Fisho: "Licensed commercial fishers, who hold the appropriate endorsements in this region, are lawfully entitled to fish in these lakes and catch fish for the wider community to consume."

The spokesperson also says the NSW Government has no plans or make changes to existing recreational fishing havens, or introduce more. Interestingly though, any changes to RFHs haven't been completely ruled out, but would have to rely on an unlikely mutual consensus between the recreational and commercial fishing sectors.

"There are no immediate plans to create additional recreational fishing havens or change fishing arrangements in the existing havens. However, any proposals where there is consensus between local recreational and commercial fishers regarding adjustments or the creation of additional fishing havens, will be considered on a case-by-case basis," the spokesperson said.

While the statement also indicates the NSW Government is "committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities," this issue only appears to highlight the gulf that currently exists between different fishing interests competing for the same resource. On paper the state Government says it is aware of the money rec fishing generates in coastal communities, acknowledging "economic studies in NSW have shown the economic benefits of recreational fishing, including from anglers from the ACT and Victoria visiting towns on the South Coast." If this is the case the government would do well to heed the concerns of many anglers who in online comments have said they won't continue to visit regions where such unsustainable commercial fishing is allowed to continue.

At the same time the NSW Government says "it is committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that the fisheries resources of NSW are appropriately shared."

Do you think this is an example of an "appropriately shared" fishery? Let us know your thoughts.

Read the full response to Fishing World from the NSW DPI below:

Response:
Please attribute these comments to a spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries:
- The NSW Government is committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that the fisheries resources of NSW are appropriately shared.

- The fisheries resources of NSW, including those taken in the fishery are closely monitored.

- Hauling is a sustainable commercial fishing method that has been undertaken in south coast estuaries since at least the 1930’s. Long term commercial landings data (see attached) show that total catches in Coila Lake and surrounding estuaries typically vary over time.

- Licensed commercial fishers, who hold the appropriate endorsements in this region, are lawfully entitled to fish in these lakes and catch fish for the wider community to consume. It would be a shame for the community, residents and visitors to have to rely on imported fish for their fish and chips.

- The Government is aware of the importance of recreational fishing to coastal towns and understand the activity is a significant part of coastal tourism.

- The Department of Primary Industries is gathering more information to further examine this issue, in light of the concerns raised.
Further information:

The NSW Government is committed to conserving fish stocks while promoting ecological sustainable development. Consistent with this, the NSW Government is committed to promoting viable commercial fishing industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that the fisheries resources of NSW are appropriately shared between the users of those resources.

The Estuary General fishery (the fishery) is a diverse multi-species multi-method fishery that operates in some of NSW's estuarine systems. It is the most diverse commercial fishery in NSW and is a significant contributor to regional and state economies providing high quality seafood and bait to the community (including persons who do not fish recreationally). The most frequently used fishing methods
used in this fishery are mesh and haul netting. Other methods used include trapping, hand-lining and hand-gathering.

The fishery is a share management fishery and is divided geographically into seven regions from the Far North Coast to the Far South Coast of NSW. The fishery has undergone comprehensive environmental impact assessment, meeting the requirements of NSW and Commonwealth law, and these management arrangements have helped to ensure that, overall, harvests are sustainable.

The primary management controls used to assist in the long term sustainability of the fishery include a limit on the number of fishers authorised to operate in the fishery, temporal and spatial closures , gear restrictions (i.e. mesh sizes and net lengths), bycatch survival devices (i.e. discard chutes to release non-retained fish) and minimum size limits.

The fisheries resources of NSW, including those taken in the fishery are closely monitored. This includes an annual assessment of all available scientific studies, biological information, and catch and effort data for the primary species. The scientific assessments conclude that the vast majority of the key species commercially harvested in the fishery, including bream, are sustainably harvested.

Hauling is a sustainable commercial fishing method that has been undertaken in south coast estuaries since at least the 1930’s. Long term commercial landings data (see attached) show that total catches in Coila Lake and surrounding estuaries typically vary over time, likely to be associated with species recruitment success, growth and abundance, environmental conditions, and, more recently, significant
changes to the number of operators (e.g. buyouts) and management arrangements.

In comparison to the historical figures, the total reported commercial catch from Coila Lake over the last three fiscal years (2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12) has been 16.3 t, 22.2 t and 19.2 t, respectively - with bream accounting for roughly a third of this (see
below).

ICOLLS (intermittent closed and open lakes and lagoons) are used on a seasonal basis by commercial fishers and during the late autumn and early winter months it is common to see haul crews working on Coila and Brou Lakes, amongst others on the south coast, targeting species such as mullet, silver biddies, bream and tarwhine. Estuarine fish are adapted to the varying conditions experienced in ICOLLs, such as changing water levels and salinity. They can survive for many years in closed ICOLLs without the need for the entrance to be open to maintain fish stocks. Not all areas within estuary systems are suitable sites for hauling or meshing.

The Batemans Marine Park, implemented in 2007, is made up of multi use zones. With the exception of the Coila Creek Sanctuary Zone, the rest of Coila Lake is a general use zone where normal recreational and commercial fishing rules apply. The same situation occurs in Brou Lake where there are two sanctuary zones (Brou creek and a small embayment on the north eastern shoreline) with the main body of the lake being a general use zone.

Licensed commercial fishers, who hold the appropriate endorsements in this region, are lawfully entitled to fish in these lakes and catch fish for the wider community to consume.

There are no immediate plans to create additional recreational fishing havens or change fishing arrangements in the existing havens. However, any proposals where there is consensus between local recreational and commercial fishers regarding adjustments or the creation of additional fishing havens, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Government is aware of the importance of recreational fishing to coastal towns and understand the activity is a significant part of coastal tourism. Various economic studies in NSW have shown the economic benefits of recreational fishing, including from anglers from the ACT and Victoria visiting towns on the South Coast