Move to save the beach pipi
IT'S been a great mystery to many a beachcomber and angler, what has happened to the humble beach pipi in recent years.
Once plentiful on beaches around NSW, including the Coffs Coast, the ocean mollusc is thought to have fallen victim to disease, overharvesting, four-wheel-drive damage to beaches and oceanic dynamics.
Acting on a noticeable decline in stocks on our beaches, the State Government has today announced that a seasonal closure will be placed on the commerical harvest of pipis across NSW.
Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said a six-month closure is a recommendation of the cross-sector Pipi Resource Planning Group, which was formed to advise on options for the future management of pipi harvesting in NSW.
"The closure until June 1 2012 is part of the sustainable management of the NSW commercial pipi fishery and is designed to reduce fishing pressure on pipi populations," Ms Hodgkinson said.
The beach clam renowned as a great source of fishing bait, and delicacy to some cultures has dwindled rapidly in the past five to 10 years.
"The NSW Government is aware that there has been a decline in the abundance of pipis on the State's beaches, and along the whole east coast of Australia, in waterways that are commercially harvested and those that are not.
Enforcing the harvest restrictions will be Fisheries Officers.
Recreational fishers are permitted to collect a maximum of 50 pipis for bait purposes only and not for human consumption.
Ms Hodgkinson said the Planning Group is made up of representatives from Indigenous,
recreational and commercial fisheries groups as well as conservation stakeholders and
members of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI).
"The NSW Government will continue to closely monitor the situation and actively manage the pipi resource.
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said the seasonal closure had been welcomed by conservationists and fishers alike.
"Recreational fishers and environmentalists are united on this issue - we need better protection for the species before it is completely wiped out," Ms Faehrmann said.