The fishing shop forced to destroy 'platypus killing' traps after public outcry

·Environment Editor

A shop, two hours north of Melbourne, has backflipped after initially attempting to “unload” platypus killing nets on interstate customers ahead of a Victorian government ban

Fishing retailer Trelly’s Tackle World at Shepparton had offered the opera house yabbie nets at the discounted price of $3 each to “guys heading to QLD and NSW” where the use of these traps is still permitted.

The yabby nets offered for sale by Trelly's at Shepparton for $3 each.  Source: Facebook
Trelly's at Shepparton angered conservationists by selling opera house yabby nets. Source: Facebook

The retailer’s site was flooded with over 100 angry comments, with one person noting, “They might be legal in those states, but they still pose the same risk to platypus.”

Opponents of the traps shared gruesome photographs of platypus drowned in opera house traps to their website and accused them of putting “profit before protection of wildlife”.

One person said “platypus and other animals are tortured in these traps,” while another urged the store to “destroy these traps immediately”.

Following the outcry, the store announced late on Friday that it was accepting $3 donations to destroy the traps.

“For each $3 we will destroy an opera house net from our stock,” they wrote.

Fishing net retailers say they were bullied

Trelly’s responded earlier saying they fully support increased protection for platypus in Victoria, but noted that opened up “a great bargain” for NSW customers “to take advantage of.”

The Shepparton store’s proprietor, Steven Threlfall, told Yahoo News Australia that the nets only cause issues when used incorrectly.

“They’re just angry because the opera house nets occasionally have native animals caught in them,” he said.

Mr Threlfall said he would stop stocking the nets when the ban comes into effect, but felt bullied by the comments to his Facebook page.

“It’s all online. They’re too gutless to actually confront us. It’s the keyboard warrior syndrome.”

The environmentalist who wants a nation-wide ban

Joshua Griffiths, a senior ecologist at Cesar Australia was instrumental in petitioning the Victorian Fisheries Authority to implement the ban.

“There was an incident in 2017 where five drowned in two nets and I guess that was the trigger to get a group of people together to get these nets banned in Victoria,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

Mr Griffiths said Trelly’s continuing to sell the nets was disappointing and noted that large retailers, which include Kmart and Big W, have pulled the product from their shelves well ahead of the ban.

Western Australia and South Australia have existing bans on the nets and Mr Griffiths hopes to see NSW and Queensland follow suit.

Images of these five platypus sparked action to ban opera house nets in Victoria. Source: PlatypusSPOT
Images of these five platypus sparked action to ban opera house nets in Victoria. Source: PlatypusSPOT

Victorian Fisheries Authority CEO, Travis Dowling, told Yahoo News Australia most fishers in his state want to do the right thing and there’s a very high level of compliance with how nets are used.

“We don’t want people using them in public waters because they really are quite lethal for any air breathing animals that get caught in them.”

He told Yahoo News Australia that photographs suggest dozens of platypus are drowned by the traps each year in Victoria.

Mr Dowling said air breathing animals find their way through a small hole in the net and then are unable to find their way out.

Before Trelly’s deleted the comments from its site, one man offered to buy all of their stock to keep the nets out of rivers.

Last month photos also emerged of a platypus being caught in illegal home-made yabby traps.

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