In July 2009 Wildlife Queensland joined forces with the Australian Platypus Conservancy and Dr Tom Grant, one of Australia’s leading platypus biologists from the University of NSW, to ban opera house and other enclosed yabby traps in Queensland public waters. In August 2009 Wildlife Queensland wrote to the Tim Mulherin again Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland to advise him of our concerns about the use opera house traps in Queensland and our desire to have such use banned.
Wildlife Queensland wrote to the Hon Tim Mulherin again Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland in March 2010 expressing our concerns about the continued use of these traps and their impact on platypuses and other wildlife. The Minister informed Wildlife Queensland that a review of the freshwater fisheries management arrangements was scheduled to commence in 2010. This was confirmed by the Department with an indication that it would start early in 2010. However recent advice has indicated that the Department is not in a position to inform Wildlife Queensland when the review is to occur.
In August 2010, after discussions with senior bureaucrats, Wildlife Queensland wrote to the Hon Tim Mulherin suggesting that he refer this issue to the Animal Welfare Ministerial Advisory Committee (AWMAC). Should the Minister decided such action inappropriate we have asked him to consider banning the use of these fishing devices in platypus habitat in geographical regions of Queensland similar to the action taken in New South Wales. If this option is to be considered it must be accompanied with regulation to reduce the size of the entrance rings to a maximum of 5cm from 10cm. This will also reduce the impact to other wildlife such as turtles and water rats. After some discussions with leading platypus researchers in Queensland and other states we have come to realise that the determination of a geographical boundary for platypus habitat in Queensland may prove to be a challenge. Should this be the case a reduced entrance ring size to no greater than 5cm for all opera house traps and other enclosed yabby traps such as funnels would suffice. While such actions will not guarantee protection of all wildlife it would certainly restrict the impacts on platypus and breeding turtles.
Wildlife continue to die while we await Government action.
Catching yabbies in muddy creeks and farm dams is a cherished memory of many Australian childhoods. Opera house traps are the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to catch large numbers of yabbies. While cheap to buy the environmental cost of using these traps is far too high.
Opera house and other enclosed yabby traps are inadvertently killing platypuses, as well as other native species such as turtles, Australian water-rats and water birds. Once lured into a yabby trap, a platypus may drown in less than three minutes. The platypus is particularly vulnerable to being killed in yabby traps because the shellfish form part of their diet. Nets are commonly set in the summer, which is also the breeding season for platypuses. If a breeding female becomes trapped any dependent young platypuses waiting in the nursery burrow for her return will slowly starve to death.
The platypus is one of Australia’s most iconic species and although not listed as threatened, numbers have declined in some areas due to habitat degradation and other pressures.
While legal in Queensland, these deadly traps are banned in all public waters in Tasmania, Victoria, ACT and east of the Newell Highway in New South Wales due to the threat they pose to wildlife.
What are the alternatives?
Rather than use opera house traps, anglers should use dilly nets (hoop-style lift nets) or baited lines with no hooks. These pose a lesser risk to platypus and other wildlife. Fishers should also observe bag-limits for crustaceans and reduce over-harvesting of platypus food resources.
What you can do:
- When fishing for yabbies use wildlife friendlier alternatives such as dilly nets (hoop-style lift nets) or baited lines with no hooks.
- Write a letter to the Premier.
- Report any incidence of dead platypus or other wildlife from yabby traps to Wildlife Queensland so that better information can be collected about the scale of the current problem.
What Wildlife Queensland is doing:
- Wildlife Queensland is lobbying the Government to ban opera house and other enclosed yabby traps in all public waters of Queensland. Wildlife Queensland is negotiating options to change the fisheries regulations to significantly reduce the impact to wildlife from opera house traps and other enclosed yabby traps.
- Wildlife Queensland has also asked the Hon Tim Mulherin to refer this issue to the Animal Welfare Ministerial Advisory Committee.
- Wildlife Queensland has contacted a major distributor of opera house traps, who contacted all importers to assist in awareness raising. To date there has been no response.
Research and References:
For more information on WPSQ's campaigns, email or phone +61 (7) 3221 0194.
Last Updated June 2010