Message for all Politicians: “It’s not how you start the race, it’s more important how you finish it”
AFTA Chairs Report February 2022
“It’s Time” for Reel Action
Whilst political parties are so very good at making promises at election time, ultimately it is the timely delivery of those promises that count in the minds of voters. This applies across every level of government and to every politician or intending politician.
Whist AFTA actively engages with Ministers & politicians on a regular basis, it is all about the numbers and I don’t just mean the 5 million-plus recreational fishers or the thousands of jobs in our industry or $billions in economic contribution across Australia. We need you, our members and your customers to engage with your local politicians to demonstrate our passion for our industry to earn their support.
Most politicians are too busy to fish so we need to pro-actively engage with them so they can at least understand our industry. When they understand the magnitude of votes in our industry, they may be more receptive to our needs.
Whilst I am the first to recognise the importance and value of the Commercial Seafood Industry, the recreational fishing industry engages more people (recfishers), employs more people, and contributes more economically to the bottom line across the whole of the community with direct and indirect spend.
Perhaps it is time to rediscover the AFTA Action Agenda on political engagement.
Federal Election (May 2022):
With only one week of parliament sittings left (29 March – Budget), AFTA has again written to all political Parties seeking their policy details and commitments ahead of the forthcoming election (MAY 2022). We have stressed that policy must be received prior to the commencement of pre-polling otherwise AFTA will record and publish “No Response Received”. Read the letter here.
At the last election, AFTA undertook a proactive targeted campaign role on “Commonwealth Marine Parks” expressing our concerns and dissatisfaction that Tony Burke, the then Labor Shadow Environment Minister, stated in an address to the Labor National Convention (Watch the old video campaign here) that the ALP would re-introduce the original Marine Park Management Plans. This action would have been to the detriment of all those in fishing.
Our members are seeking as a minimum proposals and commitments from all parties for:
- Commonwealth Marine Parks & Management Plans
- Fish Stock Resource Sharing between Commercial, Recreational & Indigenous fisheries in relation to, but not limited to: Snapper, Bluefin Tuna & Spanish Mackerel
- Control & eradication of non-native invasive species, e.g. Carp & Tilapia in our waterways
AFTA, as a member of ARFF has also contributed to the ARFF Election policy submission, you can read it here.
With the election to be held on 19 March 2022, there are critical issues that continue to irritate our sector and that are yet to be addressed by all parties.
In saying that the ALP has released their policy and Liberal Minister David Basham released details of a funding package, we are awaiting a formal election policy from the Liberal Government.
We have requested further policy detail from all parties on issues important to recreational fishing in South Australia prior to the election.
We need a detailed commitment plan for the 2023 Snapper season opening with a no bag/boat limit cut for recreational fishers. The one fish per person limit is too low and fair and equitable resource sharing allocation of Snapper between commercial and recreational fisheries. Currently, recreational allocation is around 9% of the TARC and does not comply with the Act to be fair and equitable to recreational fishers.
Members are concerned with the introduction of a rec-fishers “App” reporting for King George Whiting, Calamari, Garfish, Snapper & Blue Crabs, this does not happen anywhere else in Australia. This agenda is being pushed by the commercial sector as they mistakenly overestimate recreational fish catches.
Whilst there have been engagement issues with various rec fishing bodies in previous governments, the MRFAC model is perhaps not the best representation model of recreational fishers in South Australia.
MRFAC have no independent voice, no money and cannot do anything without approval from the Minister. This is not representing recreational fishers as it is not at arm’s length from the government. It is time for independent representation that can challenge the government and more importantly government agencies and also be able to work with them in a meaningful manner, representing fishers and having funding to be able to have a voice.
It is time for the Government to adequality fund the recreational fishing sector so it can work with Government to bring about better outcomes for recreational fishers.
AFTA has scheduled a further meeting with Minister Mark Furner on the 17th March 2022 at Parliament House Brisbane where President Michael Starkey, Qld Director Kord Luckus and I will continue to pursue the issues of:
- Spanish Mackerel fishery
- Legal fish length -v- fillet length
- Snapper fishery
- Nannygai fishery
AFTA asks for the justification in the modelling and methodology of the stock assessments as we have continually questioned the modelling of the sustainable stock & capture rate by Qld Fisheries at all levels in Qld.
We will keep members informed as to the progress of discussions. AFTA Members need to be concerned, please stay in touch for updates.
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