NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has declared short-term fishing closures for ocean waters off seven north coast rivers to protect fish and small prawns displaced by flooding.
“The closures, which were introduced last Friday, prohibit prawn trawling in ocean waters off the mouths of the Richmond, Evans, Clarence, Bellinger, Nambucca, Macleay and Hastings Rivers,” said NSW DPI Director Commercial Fisheries Andrew Goulstone.
“The closures are now in place and will run for two weeks until 11 February – except for the Bellinger where there is a three week closure until 18 February.
“The closures are aimed at protecting fish and small prawns washed out of the rivers as a result of the floods.
“In high water flows, abnormally large numbers of fish and small prawns are flushed from flooded estuaries where they become susceptible to being unintentionally caught in prawn nets.”
Mr Goulstone said the action taken to temporarily stop trawling in these inshore areas following flooding is a standard management response to minimise the fishery’s interactions with non-target fish and prawns.
“Adaptive fishing closures are a key plank in the Ocean Trawl Fishery Management Strategy which is used to sustainably manage the harvest of some of our most valuable species, including the highly sought after Eastern King Prawn.
“Giving prawns that are pushed out to sea an opportunity to settle and grow should also provide for increased production and better returns for local fishers.”
Mr Goulstone said the closures were implemented with the support of local industry leaders, who should be congratulated for their proactive approach and assistance.
“Fisheries NSW officers and industry leaders will be monitoring conditions over the coming weeks to determine if the closures should be lifted early or extended, depending on the conditions.”
Detailed information on the fishing closures is available at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au or by calling (02) 9527 8502.