Commercial pipi harvesting ban

HUNTER pipis are back off the table for commercial harvesters this month in the second statewide ban in a year.

The Department of Primary Industries has banned commercial harvesting statewide until June in a bid to reduce fishing pressure on the mollusc populations.

It is the second six-month moratorium following an ongoing campaign by Fingal Bay fishing identity John ‘‘Stinker’’ Clarke to protect the future of pipi colonies, particularly in Stockton Bight.

Fisheries NSW executive director Dr Geoff Allan said the new ban would reduce fishing pressures on the state’s pipi population and provide time for research into better identification of at-risk  populations.

‘‘The closure is an important management tool that helps to ensure the continued sustainability of the pipi fishery and follows consultation,’’ Dr Allan said.

‘‘The department will continue to work with key stakeholders on the development of longer-term fishery arrangements to ensure that pipi stocks continue to provide environmental benefit and support ongoing fishing activities.’’

Mr Clarke, who prompted the Port Stephens Council to seek assurances from the state government over the sustainability of pipi harvesting in its  electorate, said the next six months shaped as a chance to compile appropriate data.

‘‘We need to sit down with all the stakeholders and discuss the future of the resource,’’ Mr Clarke said.

 The halt would also give authorities a vital opportunity to hear from stakeholders including Stockton Bight’s traditional custodians, the Maaiangal clan, he said. 

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