Changes to NSW bag and size limits announced

NSW anglers will face new bag and size limits for a number of popular sportfish species as of November, following extensive consultation and feedback from the state’s recreational fishers, Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced today.

Ms Hodgkinson said the NSW Government released a discussion paper with 43 proposals for recreational saltwater and freshwater fishing rules for public comment between May and August 2013, which resulted in 5440 submissions and more than 30,000 comments.

“The NSW Government has listened to the feedback and issues raised as part of a comprehensive consultation process and as a result, I am today announcing a total of 16 changes to bag and size limits and gear,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“These modest changes will apply to recreational saltwater and freshwater fishers from 3 November 2014 and were supported by the majority of people who made submissions.”

Key changes include:

  • bag limit reduced from 20 to 10 for Flathead species (other than Dusky Flathead), Bream and Tarwhine, Tailor, Blue Swimmer Crab, Trevally and Luderick. The possession limit of 20 will remain for these species;
  • catch and release requirement (maximum size limit) introduced for Murray cod caught at more than 80cm (the current minimum size limit of 60cm remains);
  • spawning closure for Australian Bass and Estuary Perch extended to four months to protect early migrating bass. Catch and release will be permitted during the closure;
  • number of witches hats/hoop nets/lift nets reduced from five to four and increase the number of crab traps from one to two in saltwater.
  • change of marking requirements of recreational nets and traps to specify trap type, fisher’s initial and surname, year of birth and postcode;
  • and fishers will now be permitted to use five hoop nets to take yabbies in Lakes Lyell, Lake Wallace and Googong Dam.

Ms Hodgkinson said of the 16 changes, five include minor rule adjustments to reduce red tape and streamline fishing rules.

The minister said the consultation undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) showed there was strong support to implement new bag and size limits, with all 16 changes receiving majority support from the community and recreational fishers.

“Importantly, recreational anglers will have time to adjust to the new rules, with an advisory period of three months from the commencement date applying,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“These changes will be introduced under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 and are based on expert advice and information from the extensive consultation with the fishing community.

“Reviews are undertaken periodically, approximately every five years, to ensure healthy and sustainable fish stocks.”

ANSA NSW President, Stan Konstantaras, had a mixed response to the new regulations saying the organisation had always advocated for sustainable recreational fishing in NSW by all sectors and supported the need for more science and a thorough resource assessment of fish stocks in NSW, but pointed out that bag and size limits were not the only answer to sustainable fishing.

“The Minister must not forget that this announcement today is only a small part of the equation and issues like water quality, habitat degradation and destructive commercial fishing practices had to be addressed as part of the bigger picture. Asking recreational anglers to take another hit again was not fair when the nothing much else was being done to protect the resource from environmental vandals and commercial fishers,” Konstantaras said.

“We all know no habitat equals no fish so more needed to be done to protect and restore the environment as well,” Konstantaras said.

“We need a Resource Assessment in NSW to see what we actually have out there and whilst we have taken a hit on bag limits it time for more recreational fishing havens in NSW and greater access in Marine Parks in NSW to offset some of the socio-economic downturn that these daily bag limit reductions might have on visitors to smaller regional tourist towns in NSW,” he concluded.

Fisho understands ANSA NSW is now hopeful of working with the Minister on these other highlighted issues impacting recreational fishing in NSW.

View a NSW DPI video explaining the changes HERE.

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