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Gulf barramundi fisherman expects best catch in three years

Lydia Burton, Friday March 17, 2017 - 19:55 EDT
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Northern Territory Barramundi Licensee Committee chairman Jeff Newman loading his fishing vessel. - ABC

A barramundi fisherman in the Gulf of Carpentaria is predicting crews will have their best catches in three years, based on early reports of the season.

At the start of February crews headed out with a sense of optimism following three years of low catches due to the prolonged drought in Queensland and poor wet seasons in the Northern Territory.

But a change in seasons this year across northern Australia has left crews feeling buoyant.

"Everyone likes to see the rain, the farmers, the fishers, everyone," said Jeff Newman, barramundi fisherman.

Rains will boost barramundi numbers

He said the substantial wet in the Top End will help push the barramundi into the river systems and result in good catches around the mouths of the rivers, which is where Mr Newman fishes.

As the Chairman of the Northern Territory Barramundi Licensee Committee, Mr Newman said fisher's optimism was further boosted by the Northern Territory's ongoing wet season which he said will have long term benefits.

"[There] will be very good recruitment this year but probably two seasons or three seasons from now there should be a good amount of fish around," he said.

"Hopefully if we can get some rain in the next couple of years and just continue that cycle, it is about a three-year cycle from when we have a very good wet season to when we see those fish come into our industry.

"This year's wet season will hopefully produce a lot of fish for three years' time.

"But it is a lot better for this year's catch as well, but it is still a bit of a wait and see situation because of poor wets we have had in the previous three to four years."

Hope for more good wet seasons

While Mr Newman remains optimistic he said the early finish to Queensland's wet season has got him concerned.

"We really need some follow up rain to keep those billabongs and rivers flowing for another month at least," he said.

"That sort of gives the barramundi more chance to stay up on the floodplains and feed and grow quicker.

"But I think everyone is very hopeful and hopefully if we can just have a few good wet seasons in a row it really will boost the industry."

Despite the mixed seasons across the north, Mr Newman said early reports are that the catch will be up.

"Reports from other fishers and the recreational fishers are that they have been catching quite well in the last few weeks so that is a good signs and I think there will be some good fish there for everybody this year," he said.

"Hopefully there will be plenty of fish coming in before Easter so that all the consumers can have their Easter fish.

"I think the price at the moment is fairly reasonable, there hasn't been a lot of fish come in yet though.

"Depending on what catches come into the port in the next three to four weeks, that price may drop a little bit but anyway it will still be affordable for everyone I think."


© ABC 2017

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