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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

Call for fishing ban in Ballina’s Shaws Bay

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An estuary cod pictured at Julian Rocks. Photo John Natoli/julianrocks.net
An estuary cod pictured at Julian Rocks. Photo courtesy John Natoli/julianrocks.net

Matthew Cusack

The killing of a large estuary cod earlier this year in Shaws Bay has prompted Ballina resident Jan Brady to call for the bay to be made into a fishing free zone.

Jan told Echonetdaily that some members of council and even some anglers were getting behind her petition to ban fishing in Shaws Bay.

This support comes as Ballina prepares to host a Fishers for Fish Habitat forum in June.

Estuary cod is a threatened species which are protected in NSW by the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

Even a popular anglers’ website, westernangler.com.au, admits ‘a lot of estuary cod are caught accidentally by anglers seeking mangrove jack and barramundi in creeks or emperor over inshore reefs’.

Jan, who has been canvassing around Ballina recently, said she received around 80 extra signatures for her petition on Friday morning despite bad weather.

This did not count the signatures on petitions still on the counters of shops around the area including Shaws Bay takeaway and East Ballina newsagency.

Jan believes not enough is being done to protect the species, saying the signage informing anglers in Shaws Bay about which fish are protected is ‘inadequate’.

Jan says Shaws Bay could be a breeding area for the estuary cod and other protected marine species.

‘I have seen (estuary cod) babies this year, which I have not seen previously,’ she said.

‘I have also seen elegant wrasse, which are also protected.’

But Jan says she has also seen crab-traps in use and spear-fishing taking place in Shaws Bay, both activities are illegal in the area.

Ballina council’s website states that ‘the seagrasses in [Shaws] bay are regarded as some of the best in northern NSW.’

But it also says that Ballina is no longer such a fishing economy town as it was in the past, with less than five per cent of the population listed as working in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors combined.

Ballina is still a hot tourist destination: this year the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport catered for more than 41,000  passengers and undoubtedly many come for the fishing.

Ms Brady hopes that tourists will choose not to fish in Shaws Bay, however, saying ‘there are plenty of other good places to fish in the area.’

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  1. Looks like a Nanny is at it again. The problem is not the small angler keeping to the already tight but fair laws, but with those that break them (spear gun fishermen, crabbers and those taking endangered species or under- and over-sized fish) and the lack of signage. I like fishing in places like Shaws Bay because it is far safer for me to do so than to go out to the deeper waters and even the rivers. What does more damage is the dirty folk that don’t take their rubbish home with them, notwithstanding that it doesn’t help that the council provides few bins around places like Shaws Bay. No-one seems to care about that.

    This is another example of our freedoms being systematically taken away by wowsers. I am all for the protection of our wildlife and their environments, marine or otherwise, and I play my part in the anti marine debris movement, but I learn most of my respect and deep love for nature by my freedom to explore it and participate in enjoying its bounties in various ways, including fishing. The jealous, greedy and undereducated seem to run things these days. What a sad world we’re in now because of them.

  2. I have met Jan who I think trawls around Shaws Bay most Sundays peddling the same urban myths about seeing fishermen killing protected species and using cast nets and crab pots. I go to Shaws Bay 3 or 4 times a year and probably spend at least $1000 on average each trip with accommodation, food, bait, fuel and other items.
    I am not a lunatic greenie but I am a conservationist, always pick up rubbish if I come across it and never drop rubbish for others to worry about.

    I keep enough fish for a feed, and return under sized fish or larger ones if I have enough for me or my family. I believe genuine fishers care about the environment and do protect the habitat for them and their children and grandchildren. I was in Ballina including the recent labour day weekend. The police came to the discovery park and chased out dozens of local teens who were drinking and smashing bottles on the north wall and were seen inside the discovery park (not fishos)
    So Jan rest assured most fisho’s care about protecting our precious Shaws Bay. If it closes to fishing I will never spend one more dollar in Ballina.

  3. Good work Jan, I would like to see the Shaws Bay Lake banned from fishing also. Leave the estuary fish for the snorkelers and paddle boarders who love seeing them. Fish on the other side of the wall!


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