Tim Blair heads the new marketing campaign for “Happy Progress Juice“, more commonly known as Oil. Michael Moore tipped to be the next on the bandwagon with his equally snappy slogan: “Oil, at least it’s not White!”
Archive for January 13, 2003
Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
Protest groups around Australia plan to launch a coordinated demonstration Australia-wide at 5pm “on the day bombing starts”. The question has to be asked: why wait until then? If you really don’t want to see Iraq bombed, why not protest now? Waiting until the bombing starts (if indeed it does) before making your voices heard, is surely the most obvious symptom of wanting a body count to support your agenda that I have ever seen. I really don’t know what else to say.
Ridiculous new laws regarding recreational fishing have been presented by WA’s Labour government. Fisheries minister Kim Chance commented “Some WA fish stocks are under serious threat of extinction.” Some of the identified species include Mackerel, Dhufish, Coral Trout, Cobbler and Groper.
For the handful of readers who got this far, I will give a quick rundown of these species and their position in recreational angling at the end of the article.
When I refer to recreational fishing, I specifically mean: “Fishing with a rod or handline from a boat or shore, for the purpose of enjoyment and a nice meal” Spearfishing and set nets should come under entirely different laws (and probably do), due to the very different nature of those practices.
I’ve been fishing all around WA, and every fisherman I have met has been responsible and caring with regards to size and bag limits of fish. (Blowies aren’t treated that well though). The last thing any fisho wants is to run out of fish. There are two major problems with the new laws on recreational fishermen:
1. The impact of commercial fishing is so much greater than that of recreational fishing, that if recreational fishing was to be completely outlawed, there would be virtually zero effect on fish stocks anywhere. Traditional angling with rod and reel, by nature, can’t catch juvenile fish of most species (the hooks are too large, and small fish don’t take baits). So much of our coastline is simply unreachable by trailered boats, that many fishing stocks can’t be fished at all, let alone fished out. Commercial trawlers and long-liners are capable of killing more (and smaller) fish in one day than most recreational fishermen would catch in a lifetime of fishing.
2. You can’t simply “throw fish back” in deep water, even if you wanted to. Fish caught in deep water (more than 30m) are usually dead before they reach the surface. Bottom dwellers have a swim bladder that swells and usually ruptures by being brought to the surface, in the same way that a diver would get “the bends” from surfacing too fast. Throwing undersized fish back when this happens usually results in them floating idly around the boat for the next hour before dying. This isn’t true for pelagic species, but most anglers know the difference. For instance, a Samson fish will survive if released, But a Jewfish is done for.
Probably the most shortsighted part of these new laws is making it illegal to land filleted fish on boating trips of less than 48 hours. Presumably, the thinking behind this is to ensure that fisherman aren’t taking small fish, then cutting them to bits to avoid prosecution from fisheries inspectors. The problem is that cleaning largish catches at shore is not only messy, but dangerous. Throwing fourty fish heads into five foot deep water at the beach attracts sharks. Despite what some people may tell you, sharks eat people, and fishermen usually try not to attract them to their family and friends swimming nearby. Cleaning fish at sea is not only much more convenient, but more responsible.
Quick study notes on some of the affected species below. Note: Only the gropers are mentioned at all in this report from the Australian Society of Fish Biology. Only the Western Blue Groper is in any need of conservation.
Mackerel: 2 species of mackerel are of importance to recreational fisherman. The common Blue Mackerel, which exist in almost plague proportions anywhere south of Rottnest Island, and the Spanish Mackerel, which is a highly prized sportfish growing over 3 feet long. Both are pelagic species and are therefore only occasional catches for recreational anglers.
Dhufish, or more correctly, “Westralian Jewfish” are the premier target of most recreational boat fisherman. They are reef dwellers, infrequently caught in water shallower than 30m. Jewfish are sought because of their large size (up to and over 18kg) and superb eating. Despite being heavily sought after they show no signs of disappearing. Like most reef fish they are in abundance in deeper water, where most recreational anglers fear to tread. Jewfish have also been successful grown in captivity in Fremantle’s aquaculture centre, so their imminent extinction isn’t likely.
Cobbler: a catfish like species, these aren’t really sought after by anyone except estuary fishers. While I am sure there aren’t many in the Swan River (there’s not much of anything there). There are plenty in WA’s other southern estuaries.
Groper: There are 2 main species of Groper in WA. The Western Blue Groper is one of the few fish that actually has been in danger in Australia. Large, delicious, and very inquisitive, these cave dwellers were nearly wiped out by spear fishermen in the 1970′s. Spearing of Blue Groper is now completely prohibited, and Anglers are only allowed 1 per day (this has been the case as long as I can remember). The news likely refers to the much more common Baldchin Groper, which are a common reef species in nothern waters. See the Coral Trout entry for more info on them.
Coral Trout and Baldchin Groper: These are northern species, only really found to the north of Shark Bay. While they are common recreational targets, a large part of their habitat is protected already from any fishing whatsoever. (The Ningaloo Reef marine reserve). The Northern half of WA is so sparsely populated that it would be extremely difficult to fish out of anything, let alone common species like these. Hell, even whale sharks and dugongs are still seen around there.
If this script can get made into a movie, there is still hope for all of us bloggers yet. The premise: Two American losers become entangled with the mob, and are forced to deliver $100,000 to someone in outback Australia. The money is (obviously) stolen by a talking, computer-generated red kangaroo. Assumedly, hilarity ensues.