Big fines or jail for casting a line in at the wrong place

THERE'S a complete fishing closure on the Mann and Nymboida rivers until October 31 to enable the endangered eastern freshwater cod to breed unhindered.

The closed waters include the Mann River and all of its tributaries (including the Boyd River) upstream of its junction with the Clarence, and the Nymboida and its tributaries from its junction with the Mann upstream to Platypus Flat.

These waterways form the greatest stronghold of the fish, which once thrived throughout the headwaters of the Clarence and Richmond rivers.

Overfishing and habitat degradation almost pushed them to extinction until, in the 1990s, a captive breeding program and a management plan turned things around a little.

There are also recovering remnant populations and descendants of stocked fish in the upper Clarence and in the Richmond and its upper tributaries.

'Easties' vigorously defend their nests against all comers, including water rats, eels, platypus - and lures.

Studies have shown that natural enemies are quick to take advantage of a fish absent from the eggs or fry, so it's best to just not target these these fish during this time.

It's not just illegal to target these fish in these closed waters, it's forbidden to fish there for anything, and Fisheries are making frequent patrols.

Some 'sport' fishos, including prominent anglers, fell foul of the law last year. Anyone found fishing or 'in possession of fishing gear capable of being used' in, on or adjacent to the closed waters, faces on-the-spot fines of $500 to $22,000 and/or six months' jail for a first offence, and up to $44,000 and/or a year in jail for subsequent offences.