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KGW: MFA Playing Games on Net Catch

So MFA say what's the big deal as only 4.6% of KGW are caught by nets? But we are interested in the Gulfs, where the nets are actually used, not at WC, where they are not. Access to regional data is getting harder to find from PIRSA. But let's look at the regions within the Gulfs and KI. For the 2008-2010 period some 515t of KGW were harvested. Remember this is after all the buy backs, amalgamations, closures etc. In two of the main Gulf regions well over 50% of KGW were netted! Including all regions 28% of KGW were caught by nets! Seems to SAFA nets are taking a lot of KGW and mainly where the majority of anglers fish. Moreover our analysis of the last 14 yr suggests the presence of netting in GSV and SG causes an increased fall in hand-line caught KGW not seen at WC. Its time MFA faced the facts, quit playing 'hide the netted KGW' and concentrated on ensuring the sustainability of this iconic resource by getting rid of their nets in the Gulfs.

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Garfish: MFA Attempt To Replace the 'Truth' with 'Nonsense' 

[1] "Following on from the changes to King George whiting, further management action was required in the Marine Scalefish Fishery to address stock concerns with another economically and socially important species, Garfish. Scientific assessments indicated that this species was under considerable stress and fishing effort had to be dramatically reduced, to provide for stock recovery. As the commercial catch and effort data and recreational survey results clearly showed that 80% of the catch was taken by the commercial net sector, it was this sector that was considered in developing a management response. The management target established for Garfish was a 40% reduction in annual net fishing effort. 
The commercial net sector operates haul nets up to 600 metres in length. These nets are either manually or mechanically hauled over shallow beaches and seagrass meadows (<5 metres depth) to catch a range of species, mainly Garfish, Silver whiting (Sillago bassensis) and Australian herring (Arripis georgianus). As Garfish are very fragile fish and the loss of scales through fishing usually results in death, the immediate management action required was to reduce net fishing effort. This could be achieved through seasonal closures, areas closures or a reduction in net fishing effort. Increasing the minimum size limit, similar to the management response for King George whiting, would not have been effective, due to the high discard mortality for garfish."
****** Zacharin, Will. "Maintaining allocation shares in addressing stock sustainability: a case study in a multispecies fishery in South Australia'." In conference Sharing the fish, vol. 6. 2006. http://fishallocation.com/papers/pdf/papers/WillZacharin.pdf

[2] To save the remaining garfish stocks from total collapse, an “action plan 2011- 2014”, was initiated. There would be 3 closures, 20, 38 and 40 days in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively, as well as a 13% reduction in haul net effort for both gulfs. The results? Well that summary is best left to SARDI’s exact words
“[commercial] Fishers have suggested that this increase in targeted effort was an indirect function of the seasonal closure which allowed Garfish to accumulate into large schools over favourable grounds, and because of their increased market demand and catchability, were heavily targeted once the fishery re-opened. This dynamic fishing behaviour appeared to negate the expected effect of the seasonal closures on total fishing effort, rendering them ineffective.”
Please focus on the SARDI phrase “increased market demand and catchability”. And let’s not forget the total failure to decrease haul net effort by 13%, the actual decrease being only a meagre 3.5 and 0.5% in NGSV and NSG respectively! The netters, for all their transgressions, had to increase their net mesh sizes, the effect of which, for gar recovery, SARDI has already forecast as “relatively minor”.
****** MA Steer et al, 2016. “Southern Garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) Fishery Fishery Assessment Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture” SARDI Publication No. F2007/000720-4

PIRSA director of fisheries and aquaculture policy admitted commercial fishing pressure was the main cause of garfish stocks struggling, particularly in the northern parts of both gulfs. "Northern Gulf St Vincent is classed as over-fished and we do think that's because of commercial fishing pressure - we're not shying away from that." he said.
****** "SAFA: Garfish Changes Unfair", Nick Perry, YP Country Times Tues 14 Feb 2017 p7

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