New era for NSW rec fishing management

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Mick Veitch MLC.

The NSW Labor party today released its recreational fishing policy in the lead up to the State’s March 23 election. It proposes to establish a new independent body, known as RecFish NSW, to oversee recreational fishing in NSW and to give ordinary anglers across NSW a say in determining how their licence fees will be spent.

As a statutory authority, RecFish NSW would oversee the expenditure of the $15 million or so raised each year from recreational licence fees placed into the Recreational Fishing Trust. It would have a Board which would include members with a mix of skillsets and expertise including legal, business and marine science, as well as elected representatives of anglers from coastal and inland regions.

NSW Labor Leader Michael Daley MP said “Casting a line is one of the simple joys of life, I want to ensure that my kids and their kids can continue to do so if they wish. Anglers deserve to know where the millions they fork out in licence fees end up, and to have a real say in how that money’s used to support rec fishing across NSW. Rather than ignoring anglers, I want to work with them and give them a seat at the table.”

In an interview with Fishing World, Shadow Minister for Primary Industries (which includes fisheries) Mick Veitch MLC fleshed out some of the policy details.

He began by outlining a couple of his priority areas for rec fishing management. First, to ensure that anglers paying their licence fees received value for money for parting with their hard-earned cash, and second that fish and their environments were properly looked after.

Mr Veitch said that within 100 days of election, the government would work out the course of action required to create RecFish NSW, including legislative requirements. He acknowledged that this will be a big job. He proposes to use an expert consultative group made up of angling stakeholders to guide him in this work and is happy to hear advice on which groups or individuals should be involved in the process. He knows that state-wide issues of concern can vary, and that the priorities of Tumut (his home town) anglers may not be the same as those from Pittwater or Lismore.

He’s well aware that devising a method of appointing a truly representative board for the state’s 770,000 anglers will also be a major challenge, and that modern communication technology will play a big role in finding a solution.

Mr Veitch sees RecFish NSW providing a high level of transparency on Trust operations, with independent audits of expenditure and performance and annual reports to Parliament. The new body will sit within his portfolio and there will be opportunities for appropriately experienced existing DPI rec fishing staff to transfer across.

The press release concluded with Mr Veitch’s observation “There is a wealth of expertise and insights in the recreational fishing sector that Government needs to worth with, not against.” We at Fisho heartily concur.

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