Alex's Column 25/11/21

This week’s AFANT AGM was positive to say the least.

Foremost was the announcement by Recreational Fisheries Minister Paul Kirby that $7 million will be spent to fix the Dundee Boat Ramp once and for all.

This will include the dismantling of the current groyne and building a more functional facility which includes a footpath and a pontoon for unloading passengers safely.

Importantly, sand build-up will be reduced significantly.

“Since we came to Government, we’ve built a new boat ramp at Shady Camp, delivered upgrades to Corroboree Billabong road, Middle Arm car park and Dinah Beach boat ramp, plus we’ve installed $8 million of artificial reefs across the Top End, awarded close to $1 million of recreational fishing grants and stocked Manton Dam and Palmerston Lakes with barramundi,” the Minister said.

At the meeting, AFANT CEO David Ciaravolo provided an update of AFANT’s great work during the year, including the premier of AFANT cross-cultural films exploring sharedvalues with Traditional Owners.

The contentious presentation was from Paul Burke, CEO of the NT Farmer’s Association, who spoke about cotton industry development.

He fielded many demanding questions about water retention required for cotton growing, and for some at the meeting he was not as transparent as they would have liked.

It’s not a subject that is going to go away readily.

Dr Keller Kopf from CDU elaborated on the need for free-flowing rivers and carefully-controlled surface water extractionin the Northern Territory.

A highlight was CDU’s Brien Roberts who is completing a PhD on NT barramundi research.

He certainly came up with new and compelling findings about the great vagaries in the barramundi’s lifecycle, including the distinct genetic populations that live only in salt water.

He also emphasised that messing about with the floodplains also messes up the barra ecology.

Fisheries Research Director, Dr Thor Saunders, explained the results so far from the Reef Fish Protection Areas Review.

It seems there are some grey areas at this stage as to the impact of the protected areas.

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The final round of the 2021 Top End Barra Series (TEBS) was held on Darwin Harbour last weekend.

According to TEBS co-ordinator, Regis Martin, it was hot and windy, with many fish around that were just too hard to hook.

“Examples of the difficulties faced by competitors over the weekend were similar to when Tim Bolch found a patch with big numbers of active fish but was only able to extract one at 59cm,” Regis said.

“Dwight Shepherd also found a big school of frantically-feeding barra in Woods Inlet, yet was only rewarded with two takers.

“I was invited on Mark Grosser’s boat, and we found barra totally smashing the bait against a little flowing drain, but we only managed two point scorers from it.

“Statistics wise, we had 31 barramundi caught this year, versus 59 last year.

“An encouraging note is the number of small barramundi caught; this is really good news and bodes well for the future of our local fishery,” Regis said.

Dwight Shepherd came third in this final TEBS round, catching three barra: 60cm, 63cm and 67cm.

John Keirs came second with four fish: 50cm, 55cm, 65cm and 68cm.

Ever-consistent James Park won the round and was the only angler to get a full bag of five fish: 66cm, 68cm, 69cm, 76cm and 78cm.

It was enough for James to win Grand Champion for 2021.

Dwight Shepherd was a very close second with only three points the difference.

John Keirs came in third for the year.

It’s interesting that these results for six rounds are the same as for this final round.


This 78cm Darwin Harbour barra helped James Park win round 6 of the Top End Barra Series and be crowned Grand Champion 2021.


Dwight Shepherd was a close second in the round and for the year.


Tennellie Lockwood and Molly Park with Molly’s harbour barra.