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NSW Minister moves to put Murray cray back on fishing list

The 2015 season could see Murray cray fishing reopened in local waters.

ZOE MCMAUGH April 22, 2014 3:20am

Murray cray fishing may be reopened in local waters in time for the 2015 season.

A recommendation to allow the continuation of recreational fishing of Murray crays is currently on public exhibition.

The NSW Government imposed a ban on cray fishing in most parts of the state in April last year. It did so under the belief recreational fishing was to blame for the reduction in species numbers.

In place only a month before the season was due to open, fishing was restricted to just two areas in the state and from a later June start date.

At the time, Deniliquin businessman and local angler Rod ‘Chappy’ Chapman said it would jeopardise a large portion of the regional economy. He last week welcomed the recommendation to reopen the waterways to cray-fishing, but said he remains reserved about the roll-out.

He also continues to reject initial suggestions that overfishing had caused the decline, noting the NSW Government’s stance on overfishing had been altered.

‘‘Despite closures of the commercial fishery and recreational fishery in ACT, South Australia and Victoria there has been no significant recovery of the species in these regions, and population declines have continued in NSW in both closed and open fishing areas,’’ the impact statement report’s summary reads.

‘‘The cause(s) of these declines have not been objectively determined.

‘‘The role of recreational fishing in the decline and/or prevention of recovery of Murray Crayfish populations is unclear.’’

The impact bans are having on local economies, and the inconclusive causes of cray decline, have led NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson to recommend fishing be opened.

If re-opened, new fishing rules will apply – a shortened fishing season from June to August, only crays measuring between 10cm and 12cm from the rear of the eye socket to the centre middle of the top of the tail can be taken, and a bag limit of only two cray per day and only four in possession.

Sampling was conducted at 60 sites across the state to develop the impact statement report, with Narrandera Fisheries research officer Martin Asmus and fisheries technician Sean Lethlean carrying out a series of tests in Deniliquin and district last June and July.

For details on how to have your say on the proposed return of cray fishing, go to http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/ or pick up a copy of the report from the Deniliquin DPI office in Charlotte St. Submissions close May 2.

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