ARFF seeks info on Tiwi lock-outs

THE national peak body representing anglers has teamed up with the tackle industry to seek answers from the NT Government about moves by indigenous landowners to ban recreational fishing access.

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), together with the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), has written to the NT Government to find out more about plans by the Tiwi Land Council to shut down angler access to parts of Bathurst and Melville islands.

See the letter HERE. Fisho editor Jim Harnwell last year wrote an opinion piece discussing this issue – see the original article HERE.

ARFF CEO Allan Hansard said he was writing to the NT Government over concerns that access closures could potentially affect fishing tourism and business opportunities.

“Last year we wrote to the Amateur Fishing Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT) seeking information on the moves by the Tiwi land owners,” Hansard told Fisho.

“Unfortunately we have not received a response. ARFF and AFTA are very concerned about any closures that affect recreational anglers. While we respect AFANT’s position as a representative organisation for NT fishos, as the peak national bodies representing Australia’s entire recreational fishing community ARFF and AFTA have a responsibility to find out more details about this issue.”

The ARFF letter asks the NT Government for details on discussions it has had with the Tiwi Land Council concerning plans for sustainable economic development on Melville and Bathurst islands.

“We understand that as part of the plan the Tiwi Land Council is considering restricting access of recreational fishing to parts of the Tiwi Islands,” the letter states.

“ARFF respects the rights of the Tiwi Land Council to develop a sustainable economic future for the Tiwi residents. However, ARFF is concerned about any restrictions to access for recreational fishers.

“The ARFF position on policies that restrict recreational fishing is clear. ARFF does not support any restriction to access for recreational fishers unless there is a sound and compelling scientific, economic or social reason … Any restriction to recreational fishing access has a detrimental effect on the opportunities of recreational fishers and on the communities and businesses that support them.”

The ARFF letter requests a briefing from the Government and the Land Council “so that we have an accurate account of the nature of the discussions so far”.

Fisho understands the Tiwi plan is based on the 2008 Blue Mud Bay decision when a High Court decision ruled that indigenous landowners had rights to marine and coastal resources.

The news website has published an interesting analysis by ANU professor Jon Altman on the potential impacts on recreational fishers as a result of the High Court’s decision. Click HERE for details.

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