In conjunction with the BIA & GFFA, AFTA has been in talks with the QLD Government regarding their current review on the Spanish Mackerel fishery and the potential impact on recreational fishers 

The Hon Bob Baldwin

Chair, Australian Fishing Trade Association

AFTA Chairs Report – July 2021

The year ahead

I personally thank all who attended the AFTA 2021 AGM, sadly though it had to be convened as a video conference as COVID struck again for the second year in a row. Of course, and more importantly, it meant the Trade Show was postponed until 2022.

It was positive to note discussions from key AFTA members about AFTA having a strong future and an important role to play for our industry, whatever the impacts of COVID are going forward.

Speaking of COVID impacts, we have now seen the implementation of much tighter local area-specific lockdowns. This has included the closure of businesses other than those government declared “essential” services that had been allowed to trade in previous times.

While understanding the various governments need to rely on the expert medical advice provided to them, we also need to understand that new virulent strains are changing the battle plan daily.  Everyone has to play their part and understand the impacts that personal ignorance of the rules can have not only on themselves but on the community as a whole.

During the past 12 months AFTA held 5 formal “virtual meetings” and as previously advised AFTA held its first “face to face” Board meeting on the 28 April at the Gold Coast.  All 6 meetings were well attended by Directors.

COVID Support

NSW Government COVID Business Support

The NSW Government is offering financial support to businesses impacted by the recent COVID-19 restrictions. The grant applications are now open.

The grants are available for businesses and sole traders based in NSW, impacted by the recent restrictions. One-off grants are available based decline in turnover over a minimum 2-week period from 27 May 2021 to 17 July 2021, compared to the same period in 2019:

* $7,500 for a decline of 30% or more
* $10,500 for a decline of 50% or more
* $15,000 for a decline of 70% or more

Full details of the grant eligibility criteria and application process are available here.

Victorian Government COVID Business Support

The Victorian Government has announced an injection of $282.5 million, meaning 90,000 businesses and sole traders will now share in up to $484.3 million in support for 12 days of current vital public health action (21 July 2021).

QLD Government COVID Business Information

SA Government COVID Business Information



AFTA Board members met with Qld Minister for Fisheries, The Hon Mark Furner in Parliament on the 22 July to launch the “Let’s Fish Qld” videos.

I would encourage all AFTA Members to help in the promotion of the “Let’s Fish” campaigns; after all, the key objective is to have more people engaged in recfishing, which is a direct benefit to your business. Details of these will be released shortly.

The Spanish Mackerel Working Group

Whilst meeting with the Minister, AFTA, represented by President Michael Starkey & Qld Director Kord Luckus were joined by Neil Patchett (BIA) & Ian Bladin (GFAA) to raise serious concerns over the Qld government’s current review of the Qld Spanish Mackerel fishery by the East Coast Spanish Mackerel Working Group and the potential impacts on recreational fishers and therefore our members.

The messaging in the communique about stock assessment, depletion and possible outcomes should be of concern to all recreational fishers.

We questioned the baseline data modelling for stock assessments and did not want a repeat of the black jewfish issue government solution where it is a “first-in, best dressed”. In other words, once the commercial limit is taken, the recreational fishers are banned from capture within bag limits.  The Black Jewfish closures have a significant impact on recreational fishers and retailers alike and sadly ignore the proper resource sharing framework that governments tout as the direction of sustainability.

Sustainable management means setting both a TAC Quota for commercial fishing and bag limits for recreational fishers.  Once set, the bag limits should not be affected by commercial fishers achieving their TAC Quota; they must be independent of each other.

AFTA know that the total economic flow-through benefit per kilogram of Spanish Mackerel derived from the recreational sector far outweighs the $15 to $30 retail price benefit.  Whilst acknowledging Spanish Mackerel as a food source, it is much. Much more to the recreational sector.

The Spanish Mackerel Working Group members are: Animal Science Queensland (Chair – Sian Breen), Fisheries Queensland (Director, Management and Reform – Kimberly Foster, Principal Fishery Manager – Tony Ham, Senior Fishery Manager – Darren Roy, Fisheries Manager – Ash Lawson, Fisheries Scientist – Joanne Langstreth, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol – Chris Morrison), commercial fishing (Chris Hain, Tony Lanzi, Anthony Vass, Richard Gilmore), recreational fishing (Ryan Tully, Gary Powis, William Bowtell), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Darren Cameron) and conservation sector (Debbie Chamberlain).

If you know Ryan Tully, Gary Powis, William Bowtell, reach out to them and express our concerns on the potential impacts for the future of recreational fishing in Qld if this review goes unchecked.

AFTA is also continuing to pushing for reform of the following issues.

Filleting of fish -v- keeping of whole fish whilst at sea and size limits.

Currently, the legal length of a fish fillet is 40cm,

The irony is that the legal length of the whole fish may be substantially well under that fillet size; for example, the permitted length of Coral Trout (other than blue spotted) is 38cm off, which a skilled filleter may get a 25cm fillet. AFTA put forward a simple, sensible, workable solution of the “legal fish fillet size”, less say 5cm for the head as the “legal fillet length”, and still maintain the Skin and Scale on the fillet for ID purposes.  This is a conservative measure that will not impact fish stocks but will better treat the fish for the dinner table and greater certainty for anglers.

“No Target” rule

AFTA Members are being impacted by season species closures and the subsequent “No Target” rule.  Implementing a “No Catch, No Take” rule against a “No Target” rule would allow fishing without potential prosecution in areas where species closures are in place.  Allowing a “No Catch, No Take” rule during Barramundi season closure would help keep tackle shops viable whilst not impacting the Barramundi breeding season as recreational fishers look toward other species in those same waters.

Future Election Time-Tables:

Fixed Dates:

South Australia:            19 March 2022

Victoria:                       26 November 2022

NSW:                           25 March 2023

Flexible Date:

Federal Election:          On or before 21 May 2022 (half-Senate)
On or before 3 September 2022 (House of Representatives)