Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenThe Kimberley Echo
Marco Kettelhake caught this 107cm barra late last month at the Pentecost River.
Camera IconMarco Kettelhake caught this 107cm barra late last month at the Pentecost River.

Fishing and boating have not been officially banned, but Kimberley locals have been discouraged from two of their favourite pastimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Government have restricted public gatherings of more than two people, except those who are from the same household, as well as members of the public gathering in an area where there is not four square metres of space for each person.

The Public Health Act Prohibited Gatherings Directions has identified places exempt to these rules, but they did not include boat ramps, parks or shorelines.

A Department of Transport spokesperson told The Kimberley Echo while the act of boating isn’t itself illegal, it is not recommended.

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“Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Emergency and advice from the State and Commonwealth Government on gatherings, social distancing of at least 1.5 metres and non-essential activities, if you can stay at home — stay home,” he said.

“The Department of Transport recommends if you don’t need to go out on your boat, then please don’t. Non-essential activities should be postponed or cancelled.”

Those who fail to comply with prohibited gathering directions could receive a fine of up to $20,000.

It is recommended all Australians only leave the house for essential shopping, to seek medical care or visit the pharmacy and personal exercise near their homes.

Apex Kununurra Barra Bash fishing competition event co-ordinator Aaron Macnamara said the advice was frustrating for skippers and fishermen in rural areas, but accepted it was warranted.

“Coming up to Easter a lot of people are going to want to go out in their boats, but by the letter of the law I don’t think that’s an option,” he said.

“I don’t think it is difficult to abide by social distancing restrictions when launching boats in the Kimberley, people could wait in their car until the boat in front of them is away on the launching pad.

“Abide by the restrictions, everyone has to bunker down unless you’re going out with someone you live with.”

Mr Macnamara said the annual Barra Bash has been postponed until restrictions on social gatherings are relaxed.

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