Fisho got these images in this morning. There's not much to be said apart from WHAT A BLOODY WASTE!
The pictures, which were taken by a local beach fisherman, show a school of massive permit which was netted near the mouth of the Noosa River last weekend. Rumours are that the fish were sold for about $2 a kilo.
That's one school of trophy size permit (aka snub-nosed dart or oyster crackers) that no longer exists. Local anglers Fisho spoke with say that permit of this size have never been seen before in the Noosa region. It's likely the fish were part of a spawning aggregation. It goes without saying that if netting like this continues these stand little, if any, chance of developing a sustainable population.
It needs to be said that permit are not a commercially viable species and are not well known as a table species. The netters were most likely targeting mullet and probably ran their nets around the permit when they saw them moving along the beach.
It's easy to become emotive and blame the commercial netters for this sort of rape and pillage. Fact is, these guys are legally allowed to do this. It's their job and they have a right to earn a wage to support their families. The ethics associated with them netting a school of big breeding-size fish for minimal commercial gain is probably something that needs to be debated, however.
In the first instance, the governments which allow the continued desecration of our inshore fisheries are the ones that should bear the blame for this sort of massacre. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening in Florida, in the US, where the permit fishery is a huge (and very lucrative) recreational tourist industry? No bloody way! Permit are internationally recognised as one of the world's premier inshore sportfish. Anglers, mainly fly fishermen, pay thousands of dollars for the chance of casting a crab pattern at these notoriously finicky fish in places like Florida, Central America, Cuba and the Caribbean. A burgeoning permit fishery has been developed in northern Australia, especially Cape York, in recent years, and they are a reasonably common catch off Fraser Island's beaches for anglers targeting dart and whiting on bait.
Although they're best known as a fly target, you can also target permit with lures and soft plastics and they're reportedly suckers for a live nipper or ghost crab. As a member of the trevally family, they are dogged and powerful fighters.
There's no doubt that Australia has some really wonderful inshore fisheries that could, if properly managed, be both sustainable and economically important. If, for example, there was an inshore permit fishery in SE Queensland, and if it was marketed and promoted properly, it could well bring in overseas revenue from fly anglers seeking trophy fish, not to mention being an amazing sportfishery for Aussie anglers. But there'll never be such a fishery if the fish are netted out of existence.
The tourist dollars these fish were worth could easily be measured in the thousands of dollars per fish. Instead they were reportedly sold for about 20 bucks each. How can fisheries managers and politicians reconcile the economic inequity and lack of logic that is evident when you examine these sort of images?
A bunch of mates - including Fisho's Mick Fletoridis and Scott Thomas - this week jetted off to Christmas Island in search of bonefish. The trip cost them in the vicinity of $5000 each, covering airfares, accommodation and guiding. The government of Christmas Island takes its bonefishery very seriously - netting or killing bones is an offence. Having foreign anglers come over to catch these fish is recognised as being vital to the island's economy.
The worth of each bone caught and released is far more than if it was netted and sold. Surely it's time that our governments realised the same economic principles apply with Australian fish, like these magnificent - now dead - permit?
What do you think? Make a comment below.
The Fisho team
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