Victorian fishos reject catch share proposal

VICTORIAN fishos are opposing moves by the state’s Department of Primary Industries to establish a system of “catch shares”.

A report in The Weekly Times says hundreds of anglers have signed a petition against the move. The petition, which is available in tackle stores throughout the state, is part of a campaign being organised by the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), the peak national body representing angling interests.

AFTA CEO Allan Hansard said the proposed strategy had the potential to devastate the recreational fishing industry.

Hansard told The Weekly Times that he was concerned catch shares could be traded and sold to the highest bidder, effectively pricing some people out of the industry.

What they’re saying is that they would give a share of the fish stock to the three groups (commercial, recreational and Aboriginal),” he said.

“Then within that there would be proportions of that allocation and they could potentially and theoretically be traded if they then divided each of those.

“This is quite serious for recreational fishing.

“Where this has been tried in other places around the world it’s largely failed, so we are very concerned about that.”

But Fisheries Victoria acting executive director Mark Edwards ruled out catch trading.

“Catch will not be sold to the highest bidder and it is not proposed to introduce quota for recreational fishers,” Edwards told The Weekly Times.

“The intention is to account for the total catch by each sector.

“Current management tools, such as bag limits, size limits and closed seasons, would continue to be used to manage recreational fishing.”

The strategy also flagged future research into fish stocks.

“One of the aspects we do support is getting better information on fish stocks but they sort of do that as a second priority,” Hansard said.

“They want to put the policy in place first and then get additional information on fish stock later.

“We support getting better information in relation to fish stocks and looking at what could happen to those fish stocks in the future and we think that’s the first step and then once we’ve got that information let us then sit down and think about good practical policies to deal with the management of those fish stocks.

“It’s a bit of an ill-conceived policy at the moment.”

Public comment on the proposal is encouraged and submissions close on March 1. Have your say on the Future Fisheries Strategy HERE

A poll conducted by The Weekly Times recorded overwhelming opposition to the catch share scheme.

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