FOLLOWING the publication on the Fishing World website of this comment piece by the NSW Recreational Fishing Alliance, claiming that Minister Niall Blair has been bullied into allowing uncontrolled and damaging fish trawling in inshore coastal waters, the NSW DPI has also released a statement.
The statement says that “NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is continuing its consultation on the proposal to transition from the NSW Southern Fish Trawl Fishery into the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.
“As part of the proposed change, fish stocks would be managed by one jurisdiction, removing unnecessary duplication and administrative burden and operate under a quota system, based on the best available science.
“DPI is listening to all concerns raised and will consider the feedback provided before moving ahead.
“The Southern Fish Trawl Transitioning Working Group is advisory only. It has been tasked with identifying and resolving issues, negotiating arrangements and providing advice to DPI and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).
“Recreational, Aboriginal and environmental stakeholders were given the opportunity to comment on the proposal during the consultation period and have also been invited to attend the final working group on Friday, May 4. The working group consists of members from the Professional Fishermen’s Association, AFMA and DPI.
“We recognise that some genuine issues have been raised during consultation and if these issues are not addressed by the working group, DPI will further consult with other stakeholders before proceeding.”
The NSW DPI also posted the following on their Facebook page:
“We’ve read some of your thoughts about our post about possible changes to commercial management arrangements for Southern Fish Trawl.
And, we’d like to clear up some misinformation:
- The number of commercial fishing trawlers will NOT increase
- Those that do operate will have the SAME boat length restrictions as currently in force
- All commercial fishers will operate under STRICT quota restrictions rather than the wasteful trip limits currently in force
- This is not about increasing the amount of fish that are caught just improving licensing arrangements
- There is NO plan to change access arrangements for recreational fishers
- We will continue to listen to all genuine concerns before any changes are made.
For its part, the NSW RFA alliance had this to say in response:
“The Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFANSW) believes that fish trawling in inshore waters has significant impacts on fish stocks and the environment and should be managed conservatively. The proposed transfer of jurisdiction may result in new vessels and gears entering the fishery, increased fishing effort, changed targeting practises, and impacts on target and non-target species and the environment that may detrimentally affect other fisheries including the recreational and charter boat sectors. These factors have not been properly considered or their consequences adequately addressed.
“The RFANSW believes that consultation to date has been inadequate and that key issues and management options have not been considered. Relevant stakeholders have been excluded from the negotiation process and the piecemeal release of information suggests that important material may not have been disclosed. The real costs and likely benefits to all stakeholders have not been provided.
“The RFANSW believes the process to date has failed because:
- No adequate justification for the transfer was provided
- Consultation with relevant stakeholders has been inadequate and has eroded confidence in the process
- All management options were not considered e.g. closing the area to trawling
- The Risk Assessment’s “Expert Panel” failed to identify all the risks including those to other fisheries and the environment undermining the results
- No cost benefit analysis was undertaken
- No business model was prepared
- No workable mechanism for the future management of important species taken in NSW commercial and recreational fisheries e.g. snapper and kingfish was provided
- No mechanism for the resolution of future conflict or resource sharing between the Commonwealth managed trawl fishery and NSW managed fisheries operating in the same waters was provided.
“The NSW Government must ensure that all relevant stakeholders including recreational fishers, charter boat operators, fishing tackle and boating service providers, environmental groups and Indigenous fishers are consulted and that the likely impacts of any proposed changes to management on their activities and businesses are fully addressed. Any stakeholders, including NSW fish trawl operators, that are adversely affected by changes in management arrangements between NSW and the Commonwealth must be adequately compensated.
“Simply handing fish trawling in inshore waters to the Commonwealth without thorough consideration of the consequences will be a disaster with long-term negative social, fisheries management and environmental repercussions.
“The Recreational Fishing Alliance asks that the NSW Government terminate the current process and undertake a new and comprehensive consultation on the best way to manage inshore fish trawling in inshore waters south of Barrenjoey to the Victorian border.”