AFTA Chair’s Report – January 2024

“No matter which state recreational fishers are in, they should not be funding the normal government work, i.e., Fishery Compliance Officers! All money raised from recreational fishing license fees should be spent only on the needs & benefits of recreational fishers.”

Hon.Bob Baldwin

Independent Chair, AFTA

NSW Recreational Fishing Trust Report

The NSW DPI 2023 Annual Report on Recreational Fishing Trusts has been released; it shows the income and the expenditure from the funds raised from NSW Recreational Fishing Licenses in 2022/3.

From the outset, let me say that AFTA considers the recreational fishery in NSW to be exceptionally well managed. As such, we congratulate both Minister Tara Moriarty and Sean Sloane, Deputy Director General D.P.I. Fisheries NSW for putting a strong focus on sustainable fisheries management both inland, coastal, and offshore and driving education and access for all.

In saying that, it has been a long-time concern of AFTA’s that $2.8m or 11.8% of the $14.7m raised in recreational fishing fee funds in 2023 were being used to fund what would be typically considered to be the business of government, funded from a budget line item in the departmental general budget revenue allocation, in that we mean the direct government funding of Compliance Officers.

AFTA is not criticising the work of the compliance officers who do a great job of compliance checks (33,1940). Still, we note with interest that the $460,850 in recreational fishing penalty notices and the $98,730 from recreational fishing prosecution fines went back to the government’s general consolidated revenue bottom line and not back to the very trust that funded the Compliance Officers. AFTA has raised this with the past 3 Ministers.

Offshore Windfarms – Current Status




AFTA has been working with Tasmanian fishing rep John Orchard to gain a local perspective for the AFTA submission on the proposed wind farm. The proposed area extends from Bridport to Burnie, and the distance from the shore ranges from a minimum of 20km away to well over 50km in many places.


John stated with the proposed Offshore Wind farm in Bass Strait, the concerns of recreational anglers are:


  1. There has been no firm decision regarding where the proposed farm will be located, so anglers cannot accurately assess the impact on each of them individually at this stage.


  1. Also, there has been no firm decision as to the exact extent of the exclusion zone, so anglers are unsure of the full impact this proposed farm will have on them.


  1. As Bass Strait has a huge tidal flow, the installation of wind turbine towers is going to create a massive “FAD” for bait fish to shelter behind, which in turn will draw not only predatory fish species into a huge zone that excludes anglers but will also draw a considerable number of predatory bird species into a potentially lethal environment as the tip speed of these turbines is deceivingly fast – I personally have witnessed the impact that land-based turbines have had on some bird species that were simply flying through the area and not concentrating on what is happening in the water below as will be the case in Bass Strait.


  1. Most anglers feel there is no justifiable reason for them to be excluded from a significant fishery when there are ample land-based wind farm opportunities in our State. There are over 100,000 recreational anglers here, which equates to 25% of the Tasmanian population, and they can potentially be affected by this proposal.


  1. The other primary concern is that once a proposal such as this has been approved, past experience with aquaculture has shown that lease sizes seem to increase with little public knowledge before the expansion. 


  1. Whilst there are around six Pro Tackle stores and another seven major “Chain” stores that this approval will directly impact should it go ahead, there are also an innumerable number of small stores in almost every area around the State that supply fishing tackle and bait services who will also suffer the financial consequences of this proposal.


As an ex-fishing tackle wholesaler with 17 years of experience in the trade, I am extremely concerned for both recreational anglers and retailers who will suffer the consequences of this proposal simply to benefit an individual entity – not to mention all the Major Fishing Tackle Suppliers around Australia that sell into Tasmania.


On the date of the Bass Straight announcement, former Tasmanian fishing identity and now Tasmanian MP and freshly appointed Tasmanian Energy Minister & Minister for Small Business Nick Duigan held a joint press conference with Federal Minister Chris Bowen and issued a release in full support of the offshore wind fame proposal   


The transcript is available here:


Whilst Nick was an extremely well-respected member of AFTA for his outstanding contribution to our industry, the interests of AFTA members and the recreational fishing industry come first and foremost.


I would urge Tasmanian AFTA members to contact Nick directly to express their concerns about the impacts on recreational fishing.

An interactive map of the proposed Offshore Windfarm area is available here, and an overview of the proposed area is available here:

If you haven’t done so, please submit your feedback by 23:59 AEDT on Wednesday, Jan 31st 2024   


The Federal Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, has used the RAMSAR Convention area environmental protection provisions in her powers and vetoed the Gippsland Offshore Windfarm – Port Hastings Shore Facilities, throwing uncertainty into the progress. (Source: Australian Jan 8th 2024).

Almost immediately, the Tasmanian Minister for Energy and Renewables, Nick Duigan, said:

Tasmania’s port of Bell Bay would be an ideal option to service construction and maintenance of Bass Strait offshore wind farms. Tasmania is already the nation’s renewable energy leader, and we are forging ahead with our plans to continue to position our State as a clean energy powerhouse; Bell Bay is an outstanding location for this type of infrastructure.”

We await further announcements.


AFTA Ambassador Brent Hancock, Tackleworld Port Stephens met with Energy Minister Chris Bowen in Canberra in December in an attempt to reach a workable solution for Recreational Fishers in the Hunter proposal.

We await the outcome.


Separately and independently, the NREN Chairman – Grant Piper, has organised the Canberra Reckless Renewable Rally to be held at Parliament House at 10:00am Feb 6th,

Their motto is:

“Not Clean, Not Green, Not Zero” – “Not Here, Not There, Not Anywhere”

The start time is 10am at the top of Federation Mall; please note they are planning three assembly points outside Canberra on the Federal, Monaro and Barton Hwy’s, then drive in together for a lap of State Circle before parking and then gathering in front of Parliament House.

You are invited to join the procession at any stage that suits you.

It is also important that everyone contact their Local Federal MP and let them know you will be there.

Please note: There is limited parking under Parliament House; other parking areas are close by and down the hill at Questacon, Reconciliation Pl, and the National Library.