Shaws Bay fishing ban going too far, says long-term resident

UNNECESSARY STEP: East Ballina man Eric Strong reckons a ban on fishing in Shaws Bay is not needed.
UNNECESSARY STEP: East Ballina man Eric Strong reckons a ban on fishing in Shaws Bay is not needed. Graham Broadhead

LONG-term Shaws Bay resident Eric Strong doesn't see the need for a ban on fishing in the bay.

Mr Strong is speaking in response to East Ballina woman Jan Brady's call to ban fishing in the bay. Ms Brady has begun collecting signatures on a petition.

Both Mr Strong and Ms Brady appreciate the value of the bay to tourism in Ballina Shire and both love watching the fish swim about.

But Mr Strong said banning fishing was going too far and took away the tourist value of families being able to wet a line in the safe, protected waters.

"I've met people who come here year after year (for holidays)," Mr Strong, who moved into the Shaws Bay estate in 1976, said.

"They include families and an attraction is the family can all go fishing together."

Mr Strong and his wife also enjoy fishing in the bay.

He said the light line they used was not strong enough to catch some of the larger species, including the cod in the bay.

He said in the years they had been fishing, he didn't believe their recreation had impacted on the fish population.

Mr Strong doesn't deny there are those who do the wrong thing in Shaws Bay.

He and his neighbours, who live near the bay and who he describes as "guardians of the bay", have confronted people they have caught spear fishing and netting fish in the bay and alerted authorities.

He agreed with Ms Brady that signage alerting anglers as to what species are protected and bag limits would be helpful.

He said it would be worthwhile to study what species were in the bay. He said a pre-1980s study had revealed 150 different species, although he admitted some seem to have disappeared.

But he said it didn't matter how many restrictions were in place, there would always be people who do the wrong thing.

Ms Brady, meanwhile, has received positive feedback on the call to ban fishing in the bay. She began her campaign after the reported taking of an estuary cod, a protected species, from the bay.

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