Anglers warned to look out for illegal yabby traps in ACT waterways

Canberra anglers have been urged to look out for illegal yabby traps that have been spotted in territory tackle shops and pose a serious threat to native wildlife.

National Parks and Catchments regional manager Brett McNamara said a few retailers were selling yabby traps, such as Opera House-style traps, even though they were illegal in public waters in the ACT and the eastern half of New South Wales. 

"The public should be aware that it is actually an offence to be in possession of an Opera House trap if you are in or beside public waters in the ACT and that it is illegal to use them in open waters," he said.

Disposable Opera House-style traps are renowned for drowning animals such as platypus, turtles, birds and native water rats, which are lured inside the traps, but are unable to find their way back out.

The ACT Government has deemed the use of the traps as one of the greatest threats to platypus, and said they were responsible for a rising number of deaths each year.

RiverSmart, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes healthy rivers, convinced tackle shops in Canberra and Queanbeyan to display posters warning of the illegal and deadly harvest of Opera-house-style yabby traps late last year.


Chief executive Bill Phillips expressed concern over retail chains and online outlets that appeared to sell large numbers of the traps without warnings.

Mr McNamara said a dead platypus and three threatened Murray Crayfish had been hauled from an illegal yabby trap in the Murrumbidgee River recently.

"The public are asked to immediately report any yabby traps found in lakes and rivers in the ACT and Upper Murrumbidgee region," he said.

"There are a number of signs of an illegal trap, including rope or string tied close to the bank going into the waterway, a plastic bottle bobbing in a fixed position in the stream or a lonely fishing float or a small plastic ball not moving with the current.

"We are also asking people to be on the lookout for discarded fishing equipment.

"If you see any, please remove it to prevent further harm to wildlife."

Illegal traps can be reported to Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 or to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.