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AFANT: Barra buyback won’t solve conflict

THE Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT says while it welcomes moves by the NT Government to buy back commercial barramundi licences and close areas to netting, the group is deeply concerned by a recent commercial closures announcement by Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis.

An AFANT statement said the closures will not resolve sector conflict in Chambers and Finke Bays and may be an attempt to divert attention from the fact the minister has not progressed rec fishing commitments made before the 2008 election.

“AFANT supports the proposed closures in Fog Bay and the Leaders Creek/Adelaide River area but we believe the design of the commercial closures around five creek mouths in Chambers Bay and Finke Bay are unlikely to reduce conflict between commercial and recreational fishers as the Minister has claimed as both will still be chasing the same fish and commercial netting in close proximity to the creeks will still impact on recreational catches,” explained AFANT President Warren de With.

“We are also very concerned that, with just over a month to go before the August election and, with any closures being subject to a 28 day consultation period, there is no possibility of the promised licence buy back and these proposed closures being put in place by that time,”.

“Before the NT Election in 2008 recreational fishers had a clear commitment from Chief Minister Paul Henderson to put in place a Recreational Fishing Development Plan within 12 months and to include the buy back of three commercial barramundi licences in that plan.”

“Four years later, the plan is still not in place, none of the promised licences have been bought back and none of the closures that recreational fishers were led to expect have been enacted.”

“Fishers will now have to wait until after the next election and hope that the new government will take a more active approach to fulfilling the commitments made in 2008 and any new promises made in the lead up to the election including these proposed closures.”

“We think that many recreational fishers will feel pretty let down when they realize that there has been no real progress in the buy back of the three commercial licences and that the announced closures can’t actually happen until a new government is in place,” Mr de With said.

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