Call to remove fishing ban to boost tourism

By Jamie Salter

Fishing bodies are protesting a ban on fishing along the Murray River between Mulwala and Tocumwal by gathering testimonials from local businesses.

The ban is part of the closure of the Murray cod fishing season from September to November, put in place about 20 years ago to protect the cod population.

South West Anglers committee member Jim Muirhead said he was speaking with local businesses to request a re-evaluation of the closure from the NSW DPI.

“We've been trying for years to get it reverted, so we thought we'd try a different tactic and go to the businesses who are affected on both sides of the border, and go back to the government with that information,” Mr Muirhead said.

He said during the closed season for Murray cod, there were other species that could be targeted, including yellowbelly, silver perch and carp.

“We want the government to lift the closure so that it's ready to go once coronavirus restrictions ease,” he said.

Cobram Barooga Fishing Club president Stefan Bruni said the closure to fishing from Mulwala to Tocumwal for three months was a blow to local businesses who were reliant on tourists.

“We haven't had an Easter or school holidays and we want to bring people to the town, local businesses like motels and cafes are struggling,” Mr Bruni said.

“We want to stop a total closure to fishing, so some people can come down for a fish and not face the consequences of being fined.”

Mr Bruni said the Murray cod population had recovered rapidly and were breeding well since the closure was introduced.

“Nine out of 10 times fishermen do the right thing, and there's more and more people that care for our environment,” he said.

Cobram Outdoors and Disposals owner operator and avid fisherman Sam Kennedy said the closure had affected his business through a lack of tourism.

“Over the years, a lot of business has been lost — people don't come to this stretch of river,” Mr Kennedy said.

“We're not allowed to take the fish by law anyway, so why is it closed?

“These things (Murray cod) have been bred beyond belief in this section of the river, they outnumber all other species and we're calling for the ban to move along the river, or for the closure to be lifted.”