On 27 July Wildlife Queensland called on the Minister for Agricultural Development and Fisheries to ban opera house traps and other enclosed yabby traps in Queensland, reactivating a 2009 campaign which unfortunately met with limited success.
The Platypus Alliance for Queensland joined Wildlife Queensland in writing to Hon Mark Furner to appeal for the protection of platypus and other air-breathing fauna which continue to drown in these traps despite the modifications made. The recent decision by the Victorian Government to ban such traps from July 2019 in all Victorian waters due to non-target species (especially platypus) deaths, spurred the Society to take up the cause again.
On 18 September Wildlife Queensland received a response from Minister Furner’s Chief of Staff on his behalf. Unfortunately, the response (no immediate action by the Minister) was disappointing, however, not unexpected. Wildlife Queensland was informed of the actions taken in 2015 by the Palaszczuk Government to reduce the impact on by-catch by recreational yabby fishers. Good news perhaps, but these species continue to drown, and to the best of our knowledge no one has been prosecuted for inappropriate use of such traps.
The simple request to refer the use of such traps to the Animal Welfare Advisory Board was rejected for now; however, we were advised:
“The welfare impacts of the use of yabby traps may be a consideration of the Board at a later date.”
Wildlife Queensland is left wondering why such consideration could not be sought now, though, without pre-empting the findings of the Board, it is quite clear why such a request was rejected.
We are also left considering Where to from here? The Minister’s office has advised to contact the Director of Management and Reform, which we will certainly action. In the interim, it is our intention to release a statement to the media informing the wider community and endeavouring to gain the much-needed support required.
Ultimately, it is not that there are no alternatives to the opera-house-style enclosed yappy trap – open top pyramid traps are available. However, until there is significant noise from the community opposing the unnecessary deaths these traps cause, politicians will be reluctant to take action that may disrupt the fishing fraternity.
Does this government really care about our wildlife? Does their lack of action speak louder than words? Your assistance as a member of the conservation community is needed. Contact your local member. Email the Premier. Talk to the opposition. After all, it was the LNP that took the first significant step to protect our wildlife from these death traps. Unfortunately, non-target species such as the platypus are still drowning.