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Northern prawn fishery - continued closure of southwest gulf of Carpentaria

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PI 85/63 10 April 1985


Part of the Northern Prawn Fishery grounds in the southwest of the Gulf of Carpentaria are to remain closed for a short period after the general opening of the surrounding grounds on 6 April 1985, the Minister for Primary Indsutry, Mr John Kerin, announced today.

He said the affected area, which was adjacent to and between the Sir Edward Pellew group of islands and Maria Island, would remain closed until 0200 hours GMT, 31 May 1985.

Mr Kerin said the continued closure of this area was being imposed on the recommendation of the Northern Prawn Fishery Management Committee (NORMAC) based on requests from northern prawn fishermen.

"Requests for the closure arose as a direct result of the effects of cyclone "Sandy" which passed through the area on or about 23 March", Mr Kerin said. .

"Fishermen have since provided evidence that the heavy rainfall associated with the cyclone, flushed juvenile banana prawns from the local river systems into the Gulf beyond the seasonal closure lines".

While small prawns had been found over a wide area, Mr Kerin said, there was not enough evidence to fully substantiate the abundance of the juvenile prawns.

However, the Commonwealth had agreed to the closure on the basis of the limited evidence available and experience of a similar situation last year after cyclone Kathy passed through the same area.

Mr Kerin added that CSIRO considered that six to eight weeks would be required to allow the small prawns to reach a size of less than 20 count per pound.

The Commonweatlh and Northern Territory Governments were co-operating in imposing the closure in an area defined from the shoreline at 137°201 East; thence north to 15°301 South, and thence generally northwest to Edward Island.

Further information: Mr David Wesney; Tel (062) 72 5240