Monday, 23 October 2017

Our View (10-10-2017): Bad to worse for our fishers

I KNOW a lot of people find it difficult to sympathise with professional fishers, but the reality is many are finding times tough.

Their struggles impact recreational fishers and local economies.

Many pros were hit hard when a marine park no-take zone was implemented at the top of Gulf St Vincent.

Several packed up and left, taking money out of Port Wakefield and surrounds.

Others stayed but ended up taking long trips to the West Coast to do most of their fishing, leaving their families behind for days at a time. Now many families live though this, especially those with fly-in, fly-out workers. Whilst it can be tough, many people prove it can be done.

But yet another challenge has now presented itself for these fishers.

Those who have stayed still operate in local waters, as do the West Coast fishers when they are at home. About 20 to 30 days per year they are told to stay away from the defence force proof range site as it hosts weapons trials, munitions proofing and environmental testing for the navy, army and air force.

Those 20 to 30 days are set to increase dramatically next year, further limiting the ability of fishers to operate from Yorke Peninsula.

This will also push more fishers south more often. Pros have been migrating south toward Ardrossan, and surrounds, ever since the no-take zone forced them out of the northernmost waters. That means they are sharing more space with the rec fishers than they had previously, and that coexistence has not always been peaceful.

The proof range sits just below the no-take zone, which extends from just north of Port Clinton across to near Port Wakefield.

No fishers can access that zone. For roughly 70 days coming up they can’t access the water below there either.

If everyone is forced to move even further down the peninsula, and has less water to share, I hope all involved can remain civil and understanding.

Nick Perry, Editor
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