Opera house traps have to go!

27 July 2018

Wildlife Queensland is ramping up its campaign against these deadly threats to our wildlife, partnering again with Qld Alliance for Platypus to advocate for a ban on opera-house-style traps and funnel traps.

Wildlife Queensland first raised this issue in 2009 when it became clear that the use of these traps to catch yabbies was causing the drowning deaths of non-target air-breathing native fauna such as platypus, turtles and water rats.

In 2014, after years of advocating for change, the Government of the day saw fit to take action and amended regulations, significantly reducing the size of the entrance hole of traps being used east of the Great Dividing Range and east of the Gore Highway.

While this action was a small step in the right direction and aligned use in Queensland with that in New South Wales, non-targeted species continue to be caught and drowned in these traps. Action has to be taken now. How many more platypus, turtles and other fauna must die in this cruel and agonising way?

This next attempt to address animal welfare issues for some of our native fauna has been spurred on by a recent announcement by the Victorian Government. Victorian Minister for Agriculture Hon Jaala Pulford MP has advised that the use of opera house traps will be phased out in all public and private waterways from 1 July 2019.

Minister Pulford has indicated she intends to raise the ban on opera house traps with Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources with responsibilities for fisheries across Australia, and suggest a national ban on the recreational use of opera house traps be considered at the next meeting.

Furthermore, the Minister advised that her announcement had support from recreational fishers, fishing tackle store operators, environmental groups and the general community. To help recreational anglers transition to wildlife-friendly yabby nets, the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) will offer a one-for-one trade-in mechanism whereby fishers can swap their old opera house traps for free ‘wildlife-friendly open-top lift nets. Wildlife Queensland applauds the Victorian Government’s decision and calls upon the Queensland Government to act accordingly.

Wildlife Queensland has written to Hon Mark Furner MP, Minister for Agricultural Development and Fisheries, advocating that the call for the ban on opera house traps and funnel traps be revisited. The Minister was urged to refer this matter to the Animal Welfare Advisory Board (AWAB) for advice.

The function of the AWAB is to provide expert and impartial advice to the Minister on animal welfare matters to improve the welfare of animals in Queensland. AWAB aims to improve the welfare of animals in Queensland by providing forward-looking advice on welfare legislation, policy, strategies and programs. The board champions community-based solutions and responses to issues and takes into consideration any relevant matters such as good practice, national and international trends, practicalities, industry capability, public opinion, scientific knowledge and animal ethics.

Though Wildlife Queensland certainly cannot predict the advice AWAB would provide the Minister considering national trends taking the recent Victorian decision and the fact these traps are banned in Tasmania, ACT and restrictions in New South Wales, public opinion and the fact that alternative means of catch are available, one could envisage the findings reflecting that the use of the traps is inappropriate and inhumane for non-target species.

Wildlife Queensland also suggested that the Minister inform stakeholders involved that, following the Victorian decision, the use of opera house traps and funnel traps is under review.

Wildlife Queensland will be writing to congratulate the Victorian Government on its decisive and appropriate action and to Senator Ruston urging her to not only listen to Minister Pulford but act on her suggestion. Wildlife Queensland will inform the Queensland Minister for Environment and Science of our actions.

What can you do, you may well ask? Wildlife Queensland would encourage anyone who cares for our wildlife, in particular, platypus, turtles and water rats to let their voice be heard. Qld Alliance for Platypus is running an e-petition at Change.org and your signature would be greatly appreciated.

Further, you can write to Hon Mark Furner MP, Minister for Agricultural Development and Fisheries, at P.O. Box 46, Brisbane QLD 4001 or email agriculture@ministerial.qld.gov.au expressing your support for a ban.

You can also email Hon Leeanne Enoch M P, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts at environment@ministerial.qld.gov.au.

Strong support for this ban is required if this inhumane and inappropriate situation is to change. We, and our wildlife, need your help.

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