NSW Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Brown has moved in State Parliament to establish a statutory body to manage recreational fishing in the state.
Brown said he gave notice in the Legislative Council earlier this month (12 Aug), to bring in a bill to introduce a Recreational Fishing Statutory Authority.
He said a Statutory Authority, established under the Fisheries Management Amendment (Recreational Fishing) Bill, would replace the Trusts/ACoRF model currently in use in NSW.
“What the Bill does is to take the same model as the New South Wales Game Council, suitably modified to establish the new Authority.
“Fishers need to take full control of the fishing licence fees, not leave the allocation of funds ultimately in the hands of the Minister. This is the best way to remove the temptation for cost shifting from core departmental budget onto the licence fees.
“The Game Council has been very successful in managing the control of feral animals and I expect a similar body for recreational fishing would be just as successful.
“I have been disappointed in the lack of response so far from the Government to the Recreational Fishing Inquiry last year, which recommended a change in the representation model.
“We need to move quickly to ensure the future of recreational fishing throughout New South Wales, and this Bill should provide a solid base for establishing the new Authority”, Brown said.
Current member of the ACoRF advisory panel, Max Castle, says he backs Robert Brown’s proposal. Castle told Fisho a submission he had presented on behalf of his fishing club (Sea Bees Boating Club) to the Government Inquiry into recreational fishing, had supported a proposal for a rec fishing statutory body in NSW.
“Recreational fishers are making a significant contribution under a user pays system with some $100 million being expended from the fishing license since its introduction some 10 years ago.
“Recreational fishing is a significant business and needs to be recognised as such, particularly the financial returns received by Governments and the contribution fishing makes to the health and well being of the community,” said Castle.
He does, however, foresee difficulty ahead due to the lack of a management model to unite rec fishing peak bodies and the fishing community within NSW.
“These peak groups currently continue to provide a very significant voluntary contribution because of their love of the sport, however, this can’t go no forever, there needs to be funding base. The recent Salter report [Keep Australia Fishing] confirmed this view. The RFA has performed the function of the NSW peak advocacy body for over 10 years and some such arrangement needs to be formalised,” Castle told Fisho.
“The Minister of the day could still appoint an advisory group if considered necessary, however, considering statutory bodies work satisfactory in other countries such as New Zealand the introduction of a similar model should also work in NSW and should be seriously explored.”
Tackle industry stalwart, John Dunphy, a long-time advocate for the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), says he too backs Brown’s push for a new recreational fishing body.
“In respect of the proposal outlined by Robert [Brown] the facts are that the present system is of no great benefit to recreational fishing in this state,” Dunphy told Fisho.
“I am certain that our industry will be right behind this initiative, which of course is to see a real partnership between anglers and of course government to ensure that not only do
recreational anglers have a real say or voice in fisheries management, access rights and sustainable fishing methods,” he said.
Dunphy also believes revenue from rec fishing licences could be better utilised to “buy out more areas” (that are commercially fished) or for gaining access to more of the state’s impoundments. He says that as well as providing more fishing opportunities for NSW anglers, introducing more rec-only fisheries also has the capacity to produce viable revenue streams.
Robert Brown said he expects that the major fishing associations would be represented on a new statutory body, as well as fishing licence holders, marine science and trade representatives and a representative of the Minister.
He is hopeful that a draft Bill can be ready for discussion before the end of the year.