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Barramundi season hit hard by drought

Virginia Tapp, Thursday October 10, 2013 - 15:47 EDT
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A fisherman holds a barramundi in his hands in Broome. - ABC

The drought in Northern Australia has forced barramundi fish to travel much further out to sea in search of food.

The season for the Gulf of Carpentaria closed on Monday and local fisherman Robert Pender says this year's barramundi catch is down approximately 40 per cent due to the failed wet season.

He says he's never seen the species so far offshore.

"I do a bit of fishing offshore and I have been catching barramundi five miles out to sea in five metres of water. Those barramundi have been in very good condition as well.

"So probably old timers will tell you that that's what they do in a bad year, and if the rains turn up, they'll rock n' roll back in again and they'll move back up the rivers.

"A lot of our fish didn't come down this year because there simply wasn't the flood water."

Mr Pender believes barramundi will be in extremely short supply for consumers.

"More likely it's going to end up in exclusive restaurants, which is a shame because we try and keep the prices down, but it's hard when the cost of production is so high with fuel and licensing requirements, and I suppose it's nice that our clients understand that."

He refutes claims that the poor season is a reflection of barramundi stocks rather than environmental conditions.

"There'll be people crying disastrous impacts on the stocks, and over-fishing, and people need to be very aware that commercial and recreational effort does not have a devastating impact.

"The biggest impacts on the environment are the natural impacts, like this lack of a wet season in the Gulf."


© ABC 2013

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