BARRAGE ENQUIRY TODAY
Opposition By Lakes Fisherman NETS AS EVIDENCE From Our Special Staff Representative MILANG, October 13.
Before members of the Public Works Committee take evidence here tomorrow about the proposal to build barrages near the Murray
mouth, they will be shown what is considered to be the best display of mesh fishing gear in the Common wealth. Local fishermen have arranged it to support their evidence against building barrages. Nine cutters have been anchored near the jetty, and hundreds of nets have been hung on seven drying lines on the shore at the lake. Probably 200 more have been draped over the railing at the shore end of the jetty. It is an impressive proof of the value of the fishing industry to the town. It is esti mated that the value of the gear is £8,000. The material for 90 per cent of the nets came from Ireland, the home of the world's best nets; and if the local fishing industry passed out of existence, it is considered that use could not be found for the nets in Australia, because most of them are specially adapted for butterfish fish- ing in the lakes. In addition to part of the gear, members of the com mittee will see there about 30 dinghies and several fishermen use motor lorries in their work. "Barrages would mean the end of the fishing industry here," said Messrs. W. and John Woodrow, two leading fishermen of the town today. They would rob an average of 25 licensed fishermen of their living, as well as a few young men who help their fathers with nets. "We do not agree with those who say that fishing on the lakes is dying," said Mr. John Woodrow. "It is true, some of the men with the most efficient, gear have gone out of the industry, and that some who have taken their places have not been so successful, but it served us and our fathers before us and we have no complaints to make about it." Importance Of Industry As evidence of the importance of fishing to Milang, 272 cases of fish were sent to Adelaide from the local rail way station last month. In the city market they brought from 6/ to £2 a case, the price being governed by supply. Besides those consignments, others sent by Milang fishermen work ing in the Coorong might be sent from Tailem Bend or taken to the market on a motor lorry. Normally, buttetfish are caught in the lake only between December and March or early in April, and then only under a combination of favorable cir- cumstances, which are secrets known to experienced fishermen. Days may pass without any return, but when fish are there, bed and meals are forgotten while the harvest is reaped, for fish are capricious, and there is no knowing how long they will remain. Disappearance Of Cod Lakes fishermen have all manner of theories to explain the disappearance of Murray cod from the lake, where they were caught in big hauls until 1912. Milang men attribute their ab- sence to the increasing alkalinity or the lake water, and say that the tendency is due to the combined effects of the reclamation of the Murray lands and increased irrigation. Irri gation, they say, permits water to ab- sorb magnesia, and other chemical con- stituents of the reclaimed soil, and when the proportion of the moisture seeps back into the stream it pollutes it. Thus cod and other river fish, are slowly poisoned, because they have been accustomed to fresh water Simi- larly, it is argued, it is the alkali im- pregnated water, and not the inflow ing sea water, which causes lake and lower reaches of the Murray to become brackish. Thus, local fishermen say, barrages will fail to keep the lakes and lower river fresh, because the trouble comes from upstream, and not downstream. They say they have definite proof of this contention to place before the committee tomorrow. The belief that with the construction of barrages Lake Alexandrina might again become a breeding water for Murray cod had no prospects of realisation, said Mr. John Woodrow. A few landholders in the Milang district might benefit from the barrages. The opinion of the township, expressed at a ratepavers meeting to discuss the project, was:—For. none: against 42. Probably witnesses examined tomor- row will be Councillor Kruse chairman of the local district council Messrs. John and W. Woodrow. S. H. Golds- worthy, and Captains Ferguson and Crener.