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Newman slashes funding to rec fishing groups

IN a further example of drastic cost cutting under the Campbell Newman-led Queensland Government, funding has been cut off to the state’s representative recreational fishing body Sunfish and fish monitoring and tagging body Suntag.

The Daily Mercury reports Sunfish chairwoman Judy Lynne has said the government funding was only a small amount of money, just more than $200,000.

“But that money runs our angler education unit,” she said. “It will hit the angler education events hard and this will include Mackay.”

Mrs Lynne said among Sunfish’s key programs were the annual Take a Kid Fishing days.

“We are trying to get kids into good clean activities, get them out of the house,” she said. “We show them the responsible way to get into recreational fishing.”

Having amassed a database containing records of almost 700,000 fish movements, Suntag has existed since the 1970s.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh confirmed the changes to recreational fishing services announced in the budget.

“As part of these changes, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) will no longer fund the administration of industry bodies such as Sunfish and Suntag,” he said.

“This is the responsibility of the industry members.”

Funding and services cut include the Recreational Fishing Enhancement Program, freshwater fishing workshops and funds for fish stocking groups. Fishcare positions will also go, as will support for aquaculture and fish hatchery operators.

A Mackay-based fishway design, construction and monitoring team has also been abolished. Vice-chairman of the Mackay Fish Stocking Association, Jeff Eales who has more than 10 years of involvement in the organisation, is shocked by the decisions and says the State Government had got it wrong.

“I’m astounded the Minister has not consulted any of the recreational fishing groups around Mackay before making these decisions,” he told the Daily Mercury.

“He needs to consult the right kind of people.

“When he’s talking about taking money from the fish stocking groups, why is he not asking those groups?”

“He is way out of his depth with this.”

John McVeigh said changes to recreational fishing services announced in the Queensland Government Budget would ensure activities aligned to administering the Fisheries Act and associated regulatory reform continued.

The minister has reportedly confirmed that Fishcare Volunteers program would no longer be funded by the department but says his department was consulting with rec fishing groups on ways to continue the program.

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