Coorong fisherman claims deterrent devices will not stop seals eating their fish

DEVASTATED: Mundoo resident and Coorong fisherman of 39 years, Darren Hoad, does not believe the crackers will help the struggling industry to cope with the growing number of seals in the waters.
DEVASTATED: Mundoo resident and Coorong fisherman of 39 years, Darren Hoad, does not believe the crackers will help the struggling industry to cope with the growing number of seals in the waters.

Fisherman all along the Coorong are crying out, saying the potential weapons soon to be released by the state government, are no match for the ‘destructive’ seals that now populate the waters in large numbers.

After years of trials, while the long-nosed fur seals continued to eat away at the fishing industry in the Coorong and Lower Lakes, the Department for Water is finally ready to release a deterrent device to help fishers protect their businesses.

By the end of the month, the long-awaited devices, known as a crackers, will be available to trained commercial fishers.

But, after years of struggling to stay afloat, Coorong fishermen of 39 years Darren Hoad has taken no comfort in the announcement.

The Mundoo Channel resident and owner of Hoad Fisheries said even if the government was giving the crackers away for free, he still would not take them.

“I’ve spoken to many people who have used them (the crackers) who say they just scatter the seals from one net to another and are becoming like a dinner bell for the seals,” he said.

“The fisherman are being ignored because it’s all too political… if they agree to a cull, too much of the population would be against it because people wrongly think the seals are cuddly animals.”

Mr Hoad said the last four years had a devastating impact on the industry.

“Even now, I don’t think a cull will do any good because they’ll take 10 per cent and the problem will still be there,” he said. “It’s completely eradicate them or nothing.”

Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick has been a voice for the Coorong fisherman and said the industry had suffered for far too long.

“The state government has buried its hands in the sand on the seal issue.”

“It’s already cost the industry many millions of dollars and these crackers have had very limited effect on the seals during the trials.

“We need a broader information campaign for the public so they can understand what these seals are really doing,” he said.

Southern Fishermen’s Association president Garry Hera-Singh was relieved a preventative measure would soon be available to help combat “the millions of dollars of damages and lost production”, but said he was “remaining realistic” about their potential effects.

“At the moment we have nothing, so we’re just hoping that the crackers will deter the seals long enough just to gather our catches,” he said. 

“Everything we’ve ever tried has never worked, so the crackers are giving us hope, at least.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Water said the use of the crackers and their effectiveness would be assessed after six and then 12 months.