Opening morning on the Boyne River at the 2017 Boyne Tannum HookUp.
Opening morning on the Boyne River at the 2017 Boyne Tannum HookUp.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Net-free Boyne River takes a step forward

STEPS to make the Boyne River and part of South Trees Inlet off limits to commercial netting operators has taken a major step forward.

Momentum for a net-free Boyne has been gathering pace for some time and now the public has a chance to become involved in the process.

However that process is expected to be a long one, with many factors needing to be taken into consideration for a decision that ultimately rests with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The push for a net-free Boyne River was instigated by the Boyne Tannum HookUp, who have made their desire for a permanent commercial netting closure no secret.

Any outcome of that magnitude would take years of planning, so HookUp president Jennifer McGuire hopes its initial request — extending the net-free period by one week — will be granted prior to next year’s May 1-3 event.

Mrs McGuire said a letter was sent to the Department last year outlining HookUp’s proposal.

“The original letter from HookUp (to the Department) was to close it permanently to commercial activity just for the Boyne River,” Mrs McGuire said.

“We suggested in that proposal as an interim measure the regulated waters period could be deferred by one week, but what we didn’t know at the same time some of the local netters had proposed the same thing.”

The Department responded to that letter earlier this month, indicating initial consultation with commercial fishers who operate in the area had taken place.

“ … they are supportive of shifting the regulated waters period as a proactive measure to reduce conflict and to demonstrate they are willing to work with recreational fishers to address local issues,” the letter stated.

The aim of extending the netting ban by one week was, according to the Department’s letter, to “reduce the conflict between the opening of the commercial fishing season coinciding with a popular recreational fishing competition in this area”.

Mrs McGuire said she’d heard of reports of conflict between recreational and commercial fishers at the HookUp.

She said extending the ban on commercial netting by one week could provide a win/win situation, but any potential ban or restriction on a permanent basis would take time.

“I’ve been candid and transparent on behalf of HookUp that our ultimate goal is to request a full closure to the Boyne River,” Mrs McGuire said.

“As part of doing that we have to justify economically, scientifically and in addition to that there’s a financial offset provision which has to be funded to pay those commercial fishers who operate in that area.

“These professional fishing people are embedded in this community with their families and contribute economically as well.

“Someone has to farm the ocean to deliver seafood to our plates, that’s what these people do and HookUp isn’t against that.”

Action on Boyne River during the 2018 Boyne Tannum HookUp.
Action on Boyne River during the 2018 Boyne Tannum HookUp.

Mrs McGuire encouraged the community to become involved in the consultation process — running until October 25.

“We’ve sent out this letter to our HookUp stakeholders, sponsors and community groups and have advised them of the current status of what we are trying to achieve,” she said.

“Many of them have already sent in their letters from their varying standpoints … the professional fisher can do the same.”

People interested in having their say can email or in writing to GPO Box 46, Brisbane, Qld, 4000.