AFTA Chair’s Report – February 2024

“The closed access to the Finniss River and the potential of further access restrictions to the Mary, Roper & Lower Daly – Channel Point areas will concentrate commercial gill net fishing and further undermine the NT government’s stellar performance with the 1 million dollar barra campaign.”

Hon.Bob Baldwin

Independent Chair, AFTA

Northern Territory – GILL NET BUYBACK

Having just returned from the Northern Territory, meeting with many industry Members – Colin & Karen Burdon – Reidy’s Lures, Shane & Steve Compain – Tackle World Coolalinga, Kevin & Jason Thompson – Compleat Angler & Camping World Darwin, Ronald & George Voukoulos – Fishing & Outdoor World Darwin, Alex Julius – NAFA, Warren & Trent de With –  Rod N Rifle TackleWorld Katherine, Matt Bannister  – Katherine Camping & Fishing,  Darren Crawley – MasterBait, Leila Bartolo – Staunch Co, Danielle Vague – Northern Tide Apparel, the Fishing Team Members at BCF & Anaconda stores at both Darwin & Palmerston as well as Kane Dysart, NT Fishing Guides Association, Jason Rogers – Fishing Guide, David Ciaravolo – AFANT CEO and many other retailers, fishing guides and charter operators it was just so fulfilling with information overflow.

Prior to the visit, I spoke with Craig Grosvenor – Craig’s Fishing Warehouse & Murray at Gove Tackle & Outdoor to get a base of understanding from ground level on just what was happening and the impact on our recreational fishing industry as I prepared a brief for the visit.

The visit culminated with positive meetings with both Recreational Fishing Minster, Joel Bowden MLA & Gerard Maley MLA, Opposition spokesperson on Recreational Fishing, to discuss policy agendas ahead of the August 24 election.

As stated previously, restrictions on access for recreational fishers have become a prominent issue, but that is now being somewhat overshadowed by the continued use of gill nets and the impact not only on Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon stocks but the indiscriminate kill of other fish species and protected marine life such as Dugong, Sawfish, Turtles and Dolphins.

AFTA’s position is that we want to see a phase-out of gill nets in the Territory. We respectfully suggest the NT government follow the Qld Government’s lead, supported by the Federal Government on this action going forward.

AFTA has issued a press release calling on both the Government & Opposition to implement a planned buyback of the 14 commercial licenses.

AFTA will work with the Government & Opposition for the goal of the buyback of commercial gill net licenses. AFTA disagrees with a long-term concept of quota limits as introduced this year.

AFTA totally supports the $1m Barra campaign. The potential of gill netting to undermine that economic driver for the Territory should not be underestimated.

There were also a lot of discussions from AFTA members around the Golden Snapper & Black Jewfish fishery in the Territory with concerns over release mortality and shark predication.

If you are from the NT, please get in touch with me; I would love more local feedback on policy positions to provide a better environment for recreational fishers and our industry.

South Australia

The SA Government has issued a new strategy through the South Australian Tourism Commission in partnership with RecFish SA, aiming to grow the recreational fishing tourism industry in South Australia to $468 million by 2030.

AFTA congratulates the Government on this forward-thinking agenda; however, a rethink on the West Coast Snapper ban would provide a tremendous directional growth curve for the recreational fishing and tourism industry in South Australia.


The Tasmanian premier, Jeremy Rockliff, has called an early election over a year before it was scheduled, with March 23 now set as the election date. AFTA still has concerns over the recent scale fish review, particularly the changes on flathead and squid.

Managing the recreational and commercial fisheries sectors’ expectations against the government bureaucrats’ expectations is never easy. Still, consideration needs to be given to the triple bottom line, not only the environmental impact but the economic benefit & social benefit as well.

Whilst the offshore windfarms planned for both the Tasmanian side of Bass Straight and the Gippsland area off Victoria are of genuine concern to recreational fishers, the wholehearted endorsement by the Tasmanian state government is of even more significant concern to the fishing industry.

AFTA provided a submission to the offshore windfarm review; details available here:


The NSW government is driving forward with the development of the NSW Recreational Fishing peak advisory body under the direction of James Finlayson. AFTA and others have been extensively involved in this development for the betterment of recreational fishing in NSW. There is much more to be done.

Click here to read the latest correspondence regarding forming a working group.


As a famous politician once said, “how good is that?” the Grade 5 school children in Victoria were repeating that chant with the rollout of 95,000 fishing kits funded from the Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Fund as per the Labor government’s election commitment.   Well Done!!!

The kits included a rod, reel with line, tackle tray, some tackle in line with Australian standards, a flyer promoting Fishcare Victoria’s ‘Come and Try Fishing’ school program, and a kid’s Guide to fishing that contains information on how to use the kits safely and, notably how to catch a fish.

Western Australia

Whilst the WA Government has opened up more demersal fishing opportunities for recreational fishers, with the spring recreational demersal fishing period doubling to four weeks made possible through changes through the Government’s $4.1 million voluntary fisheries adjustment scheme (VFAS) for commercial operators, much more needs to be done to see a sustainable recreational fishing sector. The balance in resource sharing between the commercial, charter, and recreational fishers is still way out of balance.

Remember that the West Coast demersal season closed on February 1 and will re-open on March 28 2024.

In addition, the move by the WA government with the proposed marine park at Bremmer Bay that will stretch 1000km from Bremer Bay all the way to the South Australian border is indeed of great concern. Plans for the proposed marine parks were released on February 16 2024 and will be open for public comment until June 16 2024. AFTA needs your local feedback for a quality submission on providing sustainability for our industry.


Over the next 18 months, there will be elections in:


March 23, 2024

Issues to be raised:

  • Recreational changes on flathead and squid
  • Tasmanian state government support for Offshore Windfarms



August 24, 2024

Issues to be raised:

  • Removal of Gill Nets in NT
  • Recreational angler access to Indigenous held lands
  • Golden Snapper
  • Black Jewfish
  • Resource sharing – commercial Barramundi 350 – 400t Daly & Roper Rivers


October 26, 2024

Issues to be raised:

  • Gill Netting on Mary River
  • Morton Bay Gill Nets
  • Spanish Mackerel boat limits
  • Snapper fishery



March 8, 2025

Issues to be raised:


May 2025

Issues to be raised:

  • Offshore Windfarms
  • Importation of green prawns and white spot disease
  • Actions to address microplastics in the ocean

It is critical for the future of the recreational fishing industry that you, as locals, contact your local members and raise local concerns. Please advise me of your concerns, and we will add it to the list.

From my experience, not many politicians and even less Ministers fish, so to assume they understand what is happening out there that impacts our trade is a little unrealistic.

Invite them to your facility so they can see and understand time is of the essence, as all future policies and budget considerations are made well ahead of the due date.

Meetings & More Meetings


In the past month, AFTA has been actively engaged in the following briefing forums:

Tackling Waste in Recreational Fishing and moving towards circularity – Industry Focus Group

AFTA has provided continual input to the forum over concerns with Ghost Nets and the detrimental impacts of microplastics on the marine environment.   Once plastic breaks down to a micro level, it is detrimental to not only all marine life that ingests it but also to the entire upward food chain, including humans.


Fisheries Climate Change Briefing

I also represented AFTA at the Bureau of Meteorology – FRDC Fisheries Climate Change briefing. It was fascinating to hear how marine heatwaves form, the broader impacts on global current flows, and the resulting impacts on fisheries.

They have made available a series of recorded briefings that help shine a light on this topic:

Fisheries Climate Briefing #1: July-Sept 2023

Fisheries Climate Briefing #2: Sept-Nov 2023

Fisheries Climate Briefing #3 December 2023 – February 2024

Fisheries Climate Briefing #4 February 2024 – April 2024


Tight Lines & Full Tills,