Ban opera house yabby traps in Queensland

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Opera house traps, used to catch yabbies (crayfish), are being widely used on the Gold Coast and are harmful to our illustrious wildlife. Queensland Government were investigating the killing of non-targeted wildlife induced by these yabbie traps, but obviously the innocent slaughter of platypus, native freshwater turtles, water rats and diving birds, no longer qualify as important. Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council (Gecko) strongly supports the campaign run by Wildlife Queensland against the use of these traps in our state. As recent as August 6th we received reports and harrowing photos of a dead breeding pair of platypuses that had been caught in this lethal trap. This, though, is but one of the numerous reported instances of wildlife dying in this cruel manner. Wildlife Queensland note how these traps have been banned for five years in the public waters of Tasmania, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and parts of New South Wales because of their proven lethal impact on Wildlife, yet they remain a legal device for use in Queensland’s freshwater. So we ask: why is Queensland Government lagging behind on this conservation crisis?

Yabbie traps have also been known to be left indefinitely in waterways, sometimes forgotten altogether, catching anything that enters or floats inside. There have been past incidences of unchecked crayfish traps killing non-targeted animals for weeks. Although the current conservation status of the platypus species is described as being ‘of least concern’, this complacency will only continue to diminish the numbers of this unique and iconic Australian animal that have been declining in areas across Australia due to habitat degradation and a list of other pressures.

It is our understanding that a variety of trap design adaptations have been trialled by The Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC), in particular fitting escape hatches to enable platypuses to exit the trap within the time they are able to hold their breath. However, their findings provide that opera house traps fitted with an escape hatch are not completely platypus-safe. Accordingly, the APC advocates that opera house traps, even if fitted with escape hatches, should clearly not be set in water bodies where platypus regularly occur and the standard traps should be universally banned. A reduced entrance ring is another proposed idea, however platypuses in the northern states are usually smaller than those down south and this modification fails to address the safety of younger, smaller platypuses.

It is an indisputable fact that opera house traps are causing disastrous impacts on non-target species, so Gecko urge the Government to finally act upon the banning of yabbie traps. Moreover, there are wildlife-friendlier alternatives for catching crayfish, such as dilly nets (hoop-style lift nets) or baited lines with no hooks. It is therefore inexcusable for the Government to continue disregarding this unjust wildlife catastrophe. 

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