MAGIC RIVER: The Noosa River looking liquid gold as captured by one of our local photgraphers Lance Hunt.
MAGIC RIVER: The Noosa River looking liquid gold as captured by one of our local photgraphers Lance Hunt. Lance Hunt

'Beam trawl is not dredging'

RETIRED Noosa commercial fisher Trevor Clarey has slammed moves to ban beam trawling in the Noosa River system, as called for by seven community and environmental groups.

The groups, responding to an interim report warning of vastly reduced numbers in the system's lower food chain, sought to influence Noosa Council as it prepares the Noosa Fishing Futures policy paper to put to the State Government.

Mr Clarey said beam trawling was not only legal but was the mainstay of a long-standing industry, and the term "dredging” was an inaccurate description, and beam trawling did not cause damage suggested by the groups. He said the marine life referred to in the interim report which indicated a big reduction in numbers was "microscopic”.

"They'll go through our 28mm nets,” he said, adding that beam trawlers were now also fitted with by-catch devices to ensure the escape of juvenile fish and larger species like turtles.

"I was on the management committee of the East Coast Management Plan 1990 [which decided] all beam trawlers must have turtle exclusion devices fitted,” Mr Clarey said. "It's now worldwide practice.”

Meanwhile, Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said the council had an "unwavering focus” on protecting the health and biodiversity of the river system, and had engaged expert consultants to carry out research.

"Their work will assist us in developing a policy position which we can take to the State as a formal submission on their current fisheries reform deliberations,” he said.

The council's approach would take into account a range of issues including those associated with current commercial fishing license practices.

"For example, it has already been discovered that commercial fishers can deploy 1.5km-long nets in the Noosa lakes system, whereas elsewhere in the state, I am told that 800 metres is the limit,” Cr Wellington said.