By ERIC PIET
NATIONAL Fisheries Authority has placed a temporary ban on the use of ‘hookah’ gear for fishing and harvesting of rock lobsters in the waters of Western and Torres Strait, says lobster manager Ian Liviko.
Liviko said the four-month ban was now in place, effective as of Dec 1 and would end on March 31.
He said the ban was a measure taken to reduce the fish-catching efficiency of the divers to allow for fishery replenishment.
“This is the period of the year when female lobsters lay their eggs,” Liviko said.
“To allow for lobster replenishment, NFA puts a seasonal ban every year in the Torres Strait and Western waters.
“This ban is to ensure the productivity of the fishery (lobster) is increased and is at the level that is not detrimental to it.
“The ban is in line with Western province and Torres Strait rock lobster management plan 2000.
“The ban is aimed at enhancing the benefit for the fishing industry and the fishermen through increased catches when it is lifted.”
According to Liviko, the hookah gear was an apparatus that comprised a tube connecting a diver underwater to a static generator on a fishing vessel, which supplies air to the diver, allowing for maximum stay of divers in the water and increased catch.
Liviko and an officer will travel to Daru this weekend to make awareness with the help of the provincial fisheries and police officers.
They will travel along the coastal fishing villages starting at Sui at the mouth of Fly River to Sigabaduru near Torres Strait.
Liviko said that any infringement on the ban after the awareness would result in prosecution and jailing of offenders.
By ERIC PIET