NEW BAN ON THE BOYNE: Extension to net-free period likely
THE Boyne Tannum HookUp has once again exceeded expectations and next year's event is expected to be even bigger, largely thanks to a surprise announcement at last night's prize draw.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher revealed efforts to extend the net-free period on the Boyne River past May 1 were advancing.
"I'm proud to announce our Government will be looking to move the start of the commercial barramundi season next year in Gladstone," Mr Butcher said.
"We'll be exploring opportunities to make sure local and visiting anglers can have first crack at the amazing fish on the Boyne.
"It's a significant process and one that will require consultation with commercial fishers who could be affected as well as other community groups including the HookUp.
"I'm confident we'll get it done ahead of next year's event."
Currently commercial fishermen can target barramundi in the Boyne River using nets between May 1 and September 1.
It's understood the Queensland Government will extend the closed period for commercial fishermen by two weeks.
The extension would mean commercial netting would not be allowed while Australia's biggest family fishing competition took place.
And it seems high-profile politicians are hearing the message including Tourism minister Kate Jones and Fisheries minister Mark Furner.
HookUp president Jenny McGuire said discussions had been taking place for several months.
"This was a part of our Gladstone region fishing tourism strategy that minister Kate Jones completely supports," Mrs McGuire said.
"Glenn Butcher and the HookUp committee have been working very proactively and energetically for a net-free Boyne River.
"There's certainly been a lot of conversations and negotiations occurring in the background."
Mrs McGuire said the changes - if implemented before next year's 25th HookUp - would have positive outcomes for the competition.
"This means instead of having a barramundi category where the (winning) length is selected at random... we'll be able to target the longest fish via a brag mat category.
"It also means we can potentially work with the Rockhampton region and start to encourage more national and international tourists to Central Queensland."
Mrs McGuire said targeting an extension to the net-free period would benefit the family aspect of the competition.
"It's a calculated choice because this is where the community is and if you want to take your child fishing for barra you want that accessibility," she said. "We know that barramundi are there and we want to protect that. Once we start to record regular catches of barramundi 1.2m or over, we know we've got a real tourism attraction."
This year there were 3074 entries at HookUp, 19 more than last year.