Catch and release fishing allowed in Port Pirie waters

PUSH: Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, left, District Council of Mount Remarkable Mayor Phillip Heaslip, Mayor Leon Stephens of Port Pirie Regional Council and Primary Industries Minister David Basham. The four representatives met to discuss allowing catch and release in Port Pirie waters and moving forward testing with results expected for December this year.
PUSH: Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, left, District Council of Mount Remarkable Mayor Phillip Heaslip, Mayor Leon Stephens of Port Pirie Regional Council and Primary Industries Minister David Basham. The four representatives met to discuss allowing catch and release in Port Pirie waters and moving forward testing with results expected for December this year.

Catch and release fishing will be allowed in Port Pirie waters during the 12-month precautionary fishing ban, with testing for heavy metals due to start this month.

The fishing closure was put in place on September 15, comes after findings from a University of South Australia report produced in partnership with Flinders Ports, Nyrstar and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The closure covers two zones in waters at Port Pirie, Port Germein and Weeroona Island:

  • Zone 1 - waters south and west of Weeroona Island Boat Ramp and including First Creek, Second Creek and Port Pirie River. All species, including all molluscs, crustaceans and fish, must not be taken and retained from this area.
  • Zone 2 - waters in the Port Germein area, extending north and west from Weeroona Island Boat Ramp. Bivalve molluscs must not be taken from this area eg. oysters, mussels, scallops and razorfish.

SA Health has advised that until further investigations are carried out into any potential health risks from consumption of seafood caught in the area, fish caught within the Port Pirie closure zones should not be consumed.

At the request of the Port Pirie Regional Council and District Council of Mount Remarkable, Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said testing of heavy metals in fish from waters off Port Pirie will be carried out in the coming weeks with results expected by the end of the year.

"The fishing closure at Port Pirie has been put in place as a precautionary measure to protect the community's health while further investigations are carried out," said Minister Basham.

"We have acted swiftly, with an abundance of caution, and testing will be carried out in the coming weeks. Positive test outcomes could see fishing reopened for fin fish species.

"It is important that we take these steps in order to have accurate information about whether there are potential health risks or not. In the meantime, catch and release fishing will be allowed in both closure zones.

"The closure has no impact on commercial seafood caught in the broader area which is taken outside of these zones.

"Consumers can have confidence that commercially caught seafood is regularly tested with South Australian seafood demonstrating a continued high-quality product in the marketplace."

CLOSURE: The Port Pirie fishing closure includes two zones. Zone 1 includes all waters south-west of Weeroona Island Boat Ramp. Zone 2 includes all waters in the Port Germein area.

CLOSURE: The Port Pirie fishing closure includes two zones. Zone 1 includes all waters south-west of Weeroona Island Boat Ramp. Zone 2 includes all waters in the Port Germein area.

Mayor Leon Stephens said he was pleased with the outcome following a consultation with Minister Basham.

"I am extremely happy with the level of intensity that was put on by Minister Basham after a recent consult and I think it shows that the government is willing to listen and be attuned more too.

"The adopted approach that we are dealing with is a perfect way clear of getting a good result for us.

"I also want to thank Minister van Holst Pellekaan for being a good supporter as it was happening."

Port Pirie Amateur Anglers Association secretary Clint Broughton said the announcement is a step in the right direction.

"It's a good first step for recreational fishermen to be able to go out and throw a line in the water without risk of prosecution," he said.

"This sort of thing is one step at a time, so any step forward is better than a step backwards.

"It's a positive step towards resolving this and getting back to normality, so we are happy about that."