Around 1000 Barramundi were caught and released in the five day Barra Classic event run by the Darwin Game Fishing Club in early May. Held at Banyan Farm on the Daly River, anglers travel thousands of kilometres every year to compete. This is an invitation only tournament and places are hotly contested. The fish caught are measured, tagged and released under the guidance of Northern Territory Fisheries, form research purposes.
Fishing is important to the Territory – the Katherine Region Tourist Association lists three separate Barra competitions in their events calendar, March – May 2005.
The Territory’s fishing lure is recognised as having an important social as well as economic impact as people do decide to move to the Territory for fishing ‘on their doorstep’. River and estuary closures to commercial gill netting in NSW and Victoria are seen as a threat to this Territory lure and the NT Government is taking it seriously.
$2 million in Government funds will be spent over the next 4 years improving fishing infrastructure and access to fishing. The Government has already invested in this major Top End attraction by closing Darwin Harbour and several major rivers to commercial gill netting, stocking lakes with Barra fingerlings, establishing Riverwatch on rivers such as the Daly and increasing funding to the NT Amateur Fishing Association (AFANT).
AFANT claims all three fishing sectors
have benefited from closure of commercial gill netting.
(i)Tagging is part of the Barra Classic and analysis of 1990-98 tags returns shows Barra are breeding and moving downriver beyond the closure line enabling commercial fishermen to capitalise on improved stock levels – demonstrated by their catch per unit effort (CPUE).
(ii)Residents of Borroloola, and the Mabunji Aboriginal Corporation who once owned a commercial license and were originally opposed to closure of the MacArthur River now strongly support it due to the best fishing for decades.
(iii) Since 1998, after the closure of commercial netting, Barra over one metre in length have been caught by recreational anglers in Darwin Harbour.
For info on the Barra Classic contact Nikola Lekias 0438 323 660