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Are your yabbie traps legal?

Are your yabbie traps legal?

by November 7, 2015 0 comments

Do you know that platypus live in our very own Gold Coast freshwater creeks? If not, that’s ok. Most of us do not know it and it’s causing a great toll on our near forgotten friends. They are shy and timid creatures and generally become more active at night or low-light hours, when most of us are still hitting the snooze button.

The platypus population is seriously under threat for many reasons, and one of these is the use of funnel or opera house traps. These traps are a popular way of catching freshwater yabbies, but they are also very effective in catching platypus. The platypus that gets caught eventually drowns if it is unable to breathe air from the surface. It is important to know that platypus are air-breathing mammals and can only hold their breath for a few minutes underwater.

The Queensland Government estimates that more than 200,000 of these traps are sold in Queensland every year. New laws have recently been introduced by the Queensland Government and yabbie fisherman need to be aware of the changes or face fines.

The new laws do not stop you from catching yabbies and that is the good news. However, they will make catching platypus harder, and that is better news. The new legislation is already underway and funnel traps and opera house traps with a rigid maximum opening size of up to 5cm in all its dimensions can be used in all Queensland non-tidal waters. Funnel traps and opera house traps with a rigid opening size between 5cm and 10cm can only be used in listed impoundments east of a line following the Great Dividing Range and east of the Gore Highway (A39) or in non-tidal waters west of the aforementioned boundary. A funnel trap map is available at the Queensland Government web page with all other guidelines on other types of traps and locations. So please check it out and get rid of illegal yabbie traps before you catch a platypus!

The consequence of not having our aquatic mammal would be devastating for one of Australia’s most unique animal icons and evolutionary diverse creatures on our planet. Our furry duck-billed mates are one of two mammal species (the other being the echidna) that are able to lay eggs and could possibly play a very useful part in the development of scientific research. The traps laid out in freshwater creeks are not the only cause of harm for these guys. Water quality, pollution, drought and lack of natural food cycle are a few other major harms to their population.

Coomera Crew


Our native mates are calling out for a friendly hand. Volunteers are currently taking a stand by spending time supporting their local PlatypusWatch group. PlatypusWatch helps monitor habitat deterioration, water quality, illegal/accidental capture, and they even go out and survey the populations! So if you have yet to encounter your first wild platypus, becoming part of the Gold Coast’s PlatypusWatch group is a fun and exiting way to helping understand our iconic local critter.

The surveys take place in the Coomera River and other locations such as Currumbin, Tallebudgera and Mudgeeraba Creeks twice a year. The next scheduled surveys are for August 2015, so if you’re keen, email Natalie at and let her know! Happy platypus watching!

Help our Australian icon and save yourself a few 20c coins. Here’s how:

  • Be aware of the current regulations governing use of yabby and fish traps, and immediately report the improper use of such devices to your state wildlife authority.
  • Spread the word among friends and acquaintances that opera house traps and homemade equivalents are responsible for drowning many platypus, Australian water-rats and freshwater turtles each year. The only reasonably safe way to set such nets and traps is to ensure that a generous air space is available at the top of the trap or net. Even then, animals may be killed if water levels rise overnight, for example after a thunderstorm.
  • Use either baited lines and a dip net or lift-style hoop nets as wildlife-friendly methods for catching yabbies or spiny crays.
  • If you notice a platypus has started feeding nearby while you are fishing, move a short distance upstream or downstream to reduce the chance of hooking the animal accidentally.
  • If you do hook a platypus, do NOT cut the line to release it. Instead, reel the animal in as gently as possible and remove the hook before releasing it back to the wild. Take GREAT care to avoid the spurs of adult males.
  • NEVER set unattended fishing lines (which are illegal in Queensland in any case).
  • NEVER leave tangled or surplus pieces of line behind when fishing from the viewpoint of wildlife, abandoned line is just a deadly accident waiting to happen.

By Byron Hoskins

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