closure on reef fishing to coincide with spawning periods, across the entire NT coast
Seasonal closures of spawning aggregations might work. The tighter bag limits of inshore reef fish proposed by fisheries are a good start. Bag limits might not be perfect, but no solution will be. Here's the current recommendations ... http://www.nt.gov.au/d/Fisheries/rfc/pr ... ations.cfm
I notice no one has commented on the 90cm barra limit.
A lot of thought needs to go into this to get the best result.
There has been talk of blanket area fishing bans, such as closing Darwin Harbour, which would be foolish when stocks of barramundi, salmon, queenfish, trevally, milkfish, tuna etc are so healthy close to Darwin.
Keep in mind the previous Labor Government closed a lot of area to barra gill nets and coastal gill nets to create a great sportfishery around Darwin. Banning all fishing because goldies and jewfish stocks have dropped is not necessary.
For example, a lure-only rule in the harbour could work well, it may sound extreme but it is less extreme than closing the harbour. Any snapper and jew caught on lures would be in the shallow water and easily released. Deep water areas might be made off limits.
Take as another example Shady Camp jewfish reef. Probably one that people might consider for a blanket ban. By all accounts jewfish stocks there are down. Yet this is a very shallow reef, less than 10m deep, and could easily support a catch and release jew fishery free of barotrauma, using circle hooks for lip hookups. This would keep barra guides and rec fishos fishing as they traditionally alternate between this reef and the coastal creeks.
On the other hand, deeper reefs with spawning aggregations might need complete closures when spawning fish are there.
Bluewater species limits such as red emperor and jobfish could be higher because they presumably receive less fishing pressure and are dispersed over wider areas.
Diver surveys of the artificial reefs would be useful. I note that spearos don't seem to have any trouble finding, or at least seeing, big snapper or jewies - there might be more to this than meets the eye.
There are many questions that need answering - do extra artificial reefs ultimately create more snapper and jewies? Or do they just spread out the existing fish? Because if new reefs create more fish, then we need to keep sinking them as Darwin grows.
Jewies grow fast and can recover quickly if problems are dealt with early enough, golden snapper will take longer. Trickies, I've no idea.