BE CROCWISE WHILE FISHING
Dry season is that great time of year when locals and visitors alike can get out and explore the wonderful part of Australia that is the Top End. Getting out camping, fishing, boating or four-wheel-driving is part of the way of life up here, and it is important to remember that, if your travels take you near any waterway in the north of Australia, you need to Be Crocwise. Once hunted to near extinction, the population of the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in Australia has now recovered to pre-hunting levels. Annual surveys suggest there are approximately 100,000 wild crocs inhabiting our northern waterways.
Crocodiles are an important animal. They are one of the top predators in our environment, and help keep our ecosystem functioning in a healthy state. They are important to the economy, attracting many tourists who want to see these magnificent animals as well as supporting a sustainable crocodile farming industry, with Australian farmers producing some of the finest crocodile products in the world.
Crocodiles are also important to the culture of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and many local businesses, sporting teams and other organisations use the crocodile as their symbol. These are animals that command respect. Being Crocwise is the best way to show that respect. Fortunately, being Crocwise is simple. Just remember that any waterway in the north could have a crocodile present. A “she’ll be right” attitude does not work in croc country. When fishing from the shore, stand five metres back from the water’s edge. Crocodiles are ambush hunters; by staying back from the water’s edge, you take away a crocodile’s ability to launch a sneak attack.
If launching a boat, have everything ready before you get to the water, quickly launch your boat and minimise any time you are in or near the water’s edge. Keep your arms and legs in the boat; do not try to revive fish by holding them over the side. For those camping near our beautiful waterways, roll the swag out or pitch the tent 50 metres from the water. Crocs do wander on to land; you don’t want one coming over to check you out in the middle of the night. If your drive requires you to cross a river, under no circumstances walk the river to check the depth first. Look for the depth markers and check the local road report before heading out. If in any doubt, don’t attempt the crossing.
Finally, at the end of a hot day, if you need a refreshing swim, look for the signage. Authorities are continually frustrated by people ignoring the warning signs. Only swim if there is a sign that says the waterway is open for swimming. If there is no sign, cool down with an icy drink instead. By being Crocwise and following a few simple principles, we can continue to enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer safely.