Not enough fish in Lake Illawarra: anglers

Recreational fishers want major limits put on professional fishing in Lake Illawarra and the nearby Windang Beach, and have started a political push for change.

The recreational anglers say the fish numbers in these areas have declined markedly over recent years, and have gathered 382 signatures on a petition backing their cause for a buyback of commercial licences in the area.

Windang man Andrew Connor, 53, said for 20 years he had plenty of success catching tailor off the beach at Windang, but has not landed a single tailor on the past six years.

Fishing nets $395m for region's economy

He said at least half of the licences should be bought back, with commercial operators removed from St Georges Basin, Botany Bay and Lake Macquarie, he doesn't see why Lake Illawarra should be treated differently.

Mr Connor is not saying the commercial operators are doing anything wrong. But he believes the size of the lake is not enough to sustain 34 professional fishing licences, as well as its popularity with recreational anglers.

"We see the tourism dollar as far stronger than any other commercial dollar that's brought in," he said.

"We're not denying anybody a right to fish, we just want a fair share."

Windang fisherman Sam Carriage, 43, said while the lake's water quality has improved, numbers of bream and whiting were way down.

"We're not here to take food out of people's mouths - we want to do it fairly," he said.

Lloyd Muscio, 79, has been fishing there for 40 years and says only recently has he been unable to catch his chosen whiting.

"It's only the last three years that I've really noticed it," he said.

"The bag limit is 20 but I haven't been anywhere near that for three years."

The petition is being circulated via the website change.org.

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