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Minister allows fish traps to reduce feral redclaw population

AUSTRALIA - Fisheries Minister Jon Ford has granted an exemption to Western Australias fish traps ban to help recreational fishers effectively remove redclaw from Lake Kununurra.

Redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus) is a freshwater crayfish from the Northern Territory and tropical Queensland, where stocking of the species outside its natural range is not permitted.

It is also illegal in WA to introduce redclaw into other waters, so fishers must not transfer live redclaw to other public waters or use it as bait in other waters.

The crustacean is not native to WA waters and the wild population of redclaw, which is also a popular aquaculture species, has been increasing in the East Kimberley, prompting action by the local community to counter the rising numbers.

Mr Ford said the East Kimberley Regional Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee (RRFAC) had undertaken trials to help identify how fishers could catch redclaw but limit the impact on protected native species.

“I congratulate the East Kimberley RRFAC for undertaking this important initiative, which will help reduce the redclaw population and expand recreational fishing opportunities in the East Kimberley,” he said.

“Under the special exemption, recreational fishers will be able to use a specifically modified ‘opera house’ style fish trap to take redclaw from the waters of Lake Kununurra and the Ord River, upstream of the diversion dam and downstream of Lake Argyle.

“These special traps are commercially available in Kununurra, however the use of any fish traps in all other WA public waters will remain illegal.”

The Minister said it was important that recreational fishers in the East Kimberley read the Department of Fisheries flyer which was available from local bait and tackle shops in Kununurra or online at http://www.fish.wa.gov.au

“Signs on display will also provide basic information about redclaw fishing,” Mr Ford said.

“While there are no bag or size limits on redclaw, fishers will be limited to a maximum of 10 traps per person or per boat and each trap must be clearly labelled with the owner’s name and address.

“All fish, other than Queensland redclaw, which are caught in one of these traps must be returned to the water immediately after a fisher discovers they are in a trap.”

the Fish Site Editor

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