Drone adds modern twist to an age-old fishing method for fourth generation Eden fisherman
Roger Fourter’s family have been fishing the waters of the NSW far south coast for over 150 years.
His great grandfather arrived in Eden in the mid 1800s, and each successive generation has entered the fishing industry — from trapping and beach fishing to pioneering the lucrative bluefin tuna fishery using pole and live bait, then later purse seine trawling using light aircraft for fish spotting.
After a long career as a commercial fisherman, Mr Fourter has now returned to his childhood passion catching salmon and mullet off the beaches of Twofold Bay and the Eden coast using the traditional beach seine method.
He shoots a 300-metre-long net from a 16-foot rowboat around a patch of schooling fish.
He said that fishing techniques haven’t changed much during the last century.
“My great grandfather designed the net boat,” Mr Fourter said.
“These days they’re fibreglass instead of wood, and the nets are synthetic not cotton. But basically the method hasn’t changed for at least 100 years.”
One piece of technology Mr Fourter’s great grandfather would not recognise is the drone he uses to spot schooling fish from the air.
“With beach fishing, you don’t take the boat out unless you can see fish,” Mr Fourter said.
“We’d spend a lot of time sitting on high headlands and waiting.
“When the drones came out and I saw what they could do, with a live feed back to a screen, I thought they’d be great for spotting fish. And they are. Fantastic.”
Eden filmmaker Peter Whiter filmed Mr Fourter over the course of a fishing season to capture the process of spotting and catching a school of fish, both from the ground and from the air.
Mr Fourter’s wife Julie also provided additional footage from aboard the net boat.
After four generations, Mr Fourter may be the last in his family to fish using the traditional beach seine technique.