Rec fishing body voices concern over industrial fishing

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the national organisation representing the interests of Australia’s recreational fishing community, today announced that it is in discussions with the Small Pelagic Fishing Industry Association (SPFIA), the organisation representing the operators of the Geelong Star, in order to address concerns about the impact of industrial exploitation of the small pelagic fishery (SPF) on recreational fishers and the broader community (see attached joint statement HERE).

The announcement comes as the Government moves to approve the 95m Geelong Star to operate in the fishery, meaning it is likely that the industrial trawler will be fishing Australian waters within weeks.

Though the Government has commissioned additional research to fill many of the knowledge gaps, the fact remains that commercially fishing the SPF at this scale and in this way is untried in Australia. The answers to many key questions ARFF has remain theoretical at this stage, or in the case of the cost/benefit to the Australian community, unanswered.

The ARFF says it understands that the Government is satisfied with the science on the fishery and the Geelong Star will access the SPF, regardless of legitimate concerns.

The SPF is a very important fishery for Australia’s recreational fishers. What happens in the fishery can have impacts on Australia’s recreational fishers now and for the future:

It covers a large proportion of Australia’s coastline including all of our major capital cities and regional centres, from Brisbane, south to Sydney and Hobart, across to Melbourne and Adelaide and Perth. In addition, it covers some of Australia’s most iconic recreational fishing grounds. Under legislation for this fishery the Geelong Star can fish within three nautical miles of these population centres at any time of the year. Small pelagic fish are a major food source within the marine food web that includes key recreational species such as southernbluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, marlin and kingfish.

Recreational fishing in Australia generates an estimated $10 billion a year and creates tens of thousands of jobs throughout metropolitan and regional communities. The ARFF says it doesn’t want this put at risk, and is rightly cautious about the impacts that any commercial activities in the SPF would or could have on Australia’s recreational fishers, the communities that support them and the wider marine environment.

ARFF discussions with SPFIA will focus on ways to minimise impacts by managing where and when the Geelong Star fishes and to develop research in order to understand more about the fishery and its place within the marine food web.

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