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Alex's Column - 23/03/2023

You’d expect an uproar and total rejection of any suggestion to reopen the Shady Camp fishing grounds in Chambers and Finke Bays to commercial netting.

Both the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) and the NT Guided Fishing Industry Association (NTGFIA) have slammed calls to reopen this iconic recreational fishing area to commercial barramundi netting.

The peak bodies are instead calling on the Northern Territory Government to offer an urgent buy-back of the commercial barramundi netting licences that have been affected by the closure of the Mini Mini and Murganella region following failed access negotiations with the Northern Land Council and Traditional Owners.

AFANT Chief Executive Officer, David Ciaravolo, said: “The Shady Camp region, including Chambers Bay and Finke Bay, must not be reopened to commercial barramundi netting under any circumstances.

“This area is the jewel in the crown of the NT’s famous barramundi fishery.

“After 14 years, the negotiations on Blue Mud Bay access have failed to produce certainty for businesses or for the tens of thousands of Territorians who love to go fishing.

“The Government cannot sit by while the increasing loss of access devalues businesses, whether those businesses are recreational, tourism or commercial fishing businesses.

“Access to fishing waters for all sectors has been declining and this is creating more resource conflict, as we can already see with these calls to reintroduce commercial netting to waters currently managed for sustainable recreational, tourism and traditional fishing only,” The AFANT CEO said.

NTGFIA Executive Officer, Kane Dysart, said:An immediate buy-back of the affected commercial barramundi licences is the only reasonable way forward for Government to address the looming resource conflict.

“The reopening of Chambers Bay and Finke Bay to netting would have devastating impacts on the guided fishing industry and the quality of recreational fishing.

“We are only just starting to see the results of the commercial netting closures in the area, which is now widely regarded as the world’s premier big barramundi and king threadfin hotspot and supports a thriving fishing tourism industry.

“The failure to act promptly will undoubtedly see resource conflict spread to the remaining open areas.

“Our many operators have already lost access to the Finniss River and the Mini Mini region; we don’t want to see more issues arise in the form of increased resource competition at places like Anson Bay at the mouth of the Daly River.

“Under current management arrangements, there are no regional quotas or mechanisms to prevent commercial effort being concentrated in the remaining open areas,” Kane said.

It’s worth noting that, according to Commonwealth Government data published this year, the NT recreational fishing and fishing tourism sectors are worth $270 million annually and support 2500 ongoing full-time jobs.

One in three Territorians go fishing each year and the fishing effort of interstate and overseas visitors rivals that of locals.

“Premier fishing locations such as Shady Camp depend on naturally-abundant fish stocks and the absence of obvious resource conflict,” AFANT CEO, David Ciaravolo, said.


The first major barramundi fishing competition and first all-female comp kicks off down the Daly River next Wednesday night with three days of fishing thereafter.

Held at the Banyan Farm Tourist Park, this eighth Great Northern Girls Gone Fishin’ competition will have 54 teams and 178 women competing.

GGF co-ordinator, Sammie Wigg, said she could have had twice as many teams but it was limited to 54.

“Most teams are comprised of two to four women anglers, but they can also have a dedicated skipper.

“There are five teams skippering themselves.

“I think this year it will be really interesting and will depend on any more rain.

“People will choose whether they go up or down the river to fish, given the amount of water that is still around.

“I have a really good feeling this year,” Sammie said.

“Most girls will go down next Monday and Tuesday to pre-fish before the comp starts.

“The people who are already pre-fishing have been getting really good fish.

“Also we have two days of Million Dollar Fish season eight left, so that adds another element.

“This year we are introducing an exciting new section called The Metre Club.

“It’s sponsored by Shorelands and Paspaley Pearls, and we’re grateful to them and to all our awesome local and national sponsors.

“There’ll be lots of great prizes, but it’s really all about seeing everyone again and enjoying the camaraderie,” Sammy explained.

Kalee Dodd, Ashlea Beckett and Loren Nicholson each caught a metre-plus barra in last year’s Great Northern Girls Gone Fishin’ competition. (Photo: Lisa McTiernan Photography)


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