The Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) has called on both the Northern Territory Government & Opposition to commit to a phase out of the 14 commercial barramundi gill netting licences across the Northern Territory in the next term of government.

AFTA Chair, Bob Baldwin has been engaging with all tackle stores, manufacturers, and wholesalers across the territory to clearly understand the concerns of industry members and has met with Minister Joel Bowden & Opposition Spokesman, Gerard Maley to present industry’s concerns on gill netting as well as the diminishing access to local waterways for recreational fishing.

Bob Baldwin said, “The NT government should look to the example set by the Queensland government phase out of commercial gill net licences with the Commonwealth government providing $160m in financial support to acquire licenses.”

AFTA is the national peak body representing the whole of the recreational fishing industry throughout Australia. AFTA membership represents every aspect of recreational fishing from manufacturers, wholesale distributors, retail, media, and charter operations and as such AFTA are connected to every person participating in recreational fishing.

Bob Baldwin said, “In calling for the phase out of gill netting it is absolutely critical that the 14 commercial gill net licence holders receive fair and adequate compensation for surrendering their licence. The investment by the NT government would be an investment in the environment, an investment in sustainability and an investment in recreational fishing tourism.”

The NT’s own 2020/21 Barramundi Fishery Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) identified there was a severe risk to dolphins, sawfish, turtles, and a high risk to Dugong.  (Source:

The continued indiscriminate nature of gill nets means that dugongs, turtles, dolphins, sawfish, and other non-targeted fish are killed, and this is detrimental to the health and sustainability of the magnificent waterways of the Northern Territory as well as environmentally irresponsible.

The barramundi & threadfin salmon are iconic fisheries in the Territory with recreational fishing tourism bringing in over $270m to the territory economy supporting over 2,500 full time jobs. Domestically the Territory is the envy of other states with a third of NT adults going fishing each year, far surpassing the national average of 21%.

Bob Baldwin said, “The standout marketing campaign, the “Million Dollar Fish (MDF) competition” makes the Territory a focus point for those wanting to catch the highly sought after Barramundi, commercial gill netting is putting that in jeopardy”.

“The closed access to the Finniss River, and the potential of further access restrictions to the Mary, Roper & lower Daly – Channel Point will concentrate gill net fishing and further undermine the governments stellar performance with the $1m dollar barra campaign.

 ENDS ….