Commercial eel fishing gear

Adult eel commercial fishing gear

In Queensland, commercial capture/harvest of adult eels is only permitted using baited eel traps or round traps. These are usually set on the bottom of an impoundment and baited with pilchards or mullet.

The following fishing gear can be used:

  • The maximum size of an eel trap is 2m x 0.6m x 0.6m when set.
  • The maximum size of a round trap is 1m (diameter) x 0.6m (high) when set.
  • The trap's frame must be made of a rigid material and is usually covered by knotted or knotless nylon net.
  • A trap (other than its pocket) must have a mesh size of at least 25mm. Any rigid mesh on the trap must be at least 22mm in each of its dimensions.
  • A float of at least 150mm in each of its dimensions must be attached to each trap.
  • The trap and trap float must be marked with the licence number and full name of the licence holder.
  • A trap may have only 1 entrance. This is a one-way funnel through which the eel enters as it attempts to reach the bait.
  • A cod-end/pocket is attached at the opposite end of the trap to the entrance and holds the catch until the eels can be removed. The pocket must be long enough to reach the water surface. The cod-end may also have only 1 funnel entrance from the trap itself to the pocket and must have an opening of at least 20cm in each of its dimensions.
  • The tail of the cod-end must also be attached to a float or buoy of adequate size to provide a breathing space within the cod-end for any accidentally trapped air-breathing animals.
  • The pocket must also have rigid frames that are no more than 1m apart and at least 20cm in each of their dimensions. The first frame must be no further than 1m from the exit of the trap into the pocket, and the last frame no more than 50cm from the end of the pocket. This reduces the likelihood that eels will be exposed to stress and anaerobic (low-oxygen) conditions when there are high catch numbers. This also lets non-target species, such as turtles, breathe at the surface and avoid drowning if they are caught in a trap.

Juvenile eel commercial fishing gear

Commercial fishers targeting juvenile eels use a variety of fishing gear, including fyke nets, dip nets and flow traps.

Juvenile traps must contain bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) to minimise impacts on non-target species.

The maximum amount of fishing gear allowed is:

  • 1 small mesh eel fyke net (long, narrow wing-mouthed net)
    • the fyke net must have a maximum of 2 wings
    • the length of each wing must not exceed 15m
    • the fyke net must not exceed 4m in height, width or diameter
    • the ends of the wings and the cod-end of the net must be marked with a reflective float bearing the licence holder's name and address
    • the net may be fixed by anchor or supported on stakes
    • the net must be kept reasonably free of debris at all times to avoid mortalities
    • a float must be attached to the cod-end to provide a breathing space within the cod-end for any accidentally trapped air-breathing animals
  • 3 small mesh dip nets
  • 3 flow traps with an effective BRD (approved by Fisheries Queensland eel fishery manager prior to use).