AFTA Chair’s Report – June 2024

On June 18th, AFTA secured both the ALP Government and the CLP Opposition commitment to a buyback of all 14 licenses over the next term of government.

The Hon.Bob Baldwin

Independent Chair, AFTA


I took the opportunity whilst in Darwin this month to follow up with both Recreational Fishing Minister Joel Bowden & Opposition Spokesperson on Recreational Fishing Gerard Maley to reinforce the importance of the closure & the buyback of the current 14 commercial Barramundi Gill Net licenses again.

On June 18th, AFTA secured both the ALP Government and the CLP Opposition commitment to a buyback of all 14 licenses over the next term of government. Once the government purchases the licenses, then the site-specific issue of illegal gill net fishing inside the Anson Bay limit lines is resolved. At the meetings, AFTA suggested to all parties that they seek Commonwealth financial support to close the licences in the next term of government, just as occurred in Queensland.

With the election just weeks away (August 24th), it is important that AFTA members and recreational fishers alike continually raise and highlight this issue with all members and candidates.

AFTA also endorses the AFANT election manifesto being promoted by AFANT, which is a job well done.

AFTA also promoted the closure of Barramundi gillnets in the Eastern Gulf, particularly now that the Qld Government commenced Gulf closures on May 17th

It was also a great opportunity to catch up with Alex Julius (NAFA) and head out for a fish with Roger Sinclair and Col Burton (Reidy’s Lures).


The Queensland government introduced new legislation, effective September 1st, 2024, regarding the sale of knives to minors (under 18 years). This included the classification of knives and control requirements for each classification.

Qld Retailers must familiarise themselves with their responsibilities under the Qld Legislation.

AFTA Members, both wholesale and retail, need to be aware that under these new laws:

  • It will become an offence to sell knives and other weapons to minors (under 18yo)
  • It will become an offence to use false identification to purchase these weapons.
  • It will become an offence to advertise weapons as ‘suitable for combat’.
  • Retailers will be required to securely store particular weapons prior to sale.
  • Retailers will be required to display signage regarding age restrictions for sales.

In addition, minimum Staff Training & Record Keeping requirements must be adhered to.

All staff must be instructed and warned that it is illegal to sell a controlled or restricted item to a minor; staff must acknowledge this in writing, and records must be kept even after the employee has left employment as per the Act.

There are information sessions available; click here to register. In addition, there is a Qld Police Q&A to assist members in making informed decisions.


Retailers will require, at minimum, signs at the point of sale, front of store, and display area, which seem necessary for selling knives other than exempt knives to people under 18, which is prohibited.


Exempt Items:

Plastic or wooden knives designed for eating, knives with a rounded or dull edge such as a butter knife, and knives designed for use as a cheese knife are not restricted.

Controlled Items – not for sale to people under 18:

Knives with one single-sided blade, such as:

  • Kitchen or steak knife
  • Utility knife or box-cutter
  • Fishing knife
  • Craft scalpel
  • Cut-throat razor
  • A single-sided knife within a multi-tool or kit

Controlled – Secured Storage:
There are legal requirements for sellers for secure storage of the following items: a locked room, cage, counter or cabinet, or some form of secure tethering cord or device which allows customers to inspect but not remove the product. Sellers may also use empty packaging or images on display while the actual items are locked away.

  • a knife other than an exempt knife;
  • a dagger that has a double-edged blade;
  • a knife with a blade at each end;
  • a sword, machete or axe;
  • a sickle or scythe;
  • a spear gun;
  • a spear;

Restricted – Stored as above:

  • Any replica weapons under the Weapons Act, e.g. gel blasters which are not clearly identifiable as toys

8 Steps for Sellers :

  1. Assess your range for impacted items.
  2. Consider whether you need to sell these items.
  3. Ensure you do not sell to minors.
  4. Display signage about age restrictions.
  5. Instruct your staff and keep records.
  6. Check items are not promoted illegally.
  7. Ensure particular controlled items are securely stored.
  8. Check requirements for restricted items and weapons.

AFTA does not offer legal advice. Members must independently ensure they comply with the Qld Legislation legislative requirements.

Members should be aware that this will most likely become the legislated norm across Australia soon, and as such, members should prepare for change.


On June 14th, I met up with a former federal colleague (Senator) and now State Minister,  Eric Abetz, the newly appointed Minister for Industry responsible for the recreational fishing industry.

Not only was it an opportunity to discuss the Scale Fish Review conducted last year, but also how to create a positive pathway forward that is beneficial to recreational fishers and the broader tourism markets alike.

I also took the opportunity to showcase the historical local fishing lure manufacturer, Wigston Lures, Derwent Park (Hobart), the famous Tassie Devil lure makers.

Justin Causby, Manager of Wigston Lures, made the extra day special by presenting Minister Eric Abetz, the newly moulded and limited release “Ecca” (Eric) lure in his honour. The aim was for Eric Abetz to understand that there are eight long-term sustainable jobs at Wigston Lures with products exported worldwide.


I must congratulate TARFISH CEO Jane Gallichan on the initiative to launch live feed weather buoys off Burnie & St Helens.

Two more buoys will be deployed over the next month off Marion Bay and south of Southport. These buoys will deliver real-time weather and improve access, quality and, most importantly, the safety of Tasmanian’s fishing experience.

The weather information is available from the TARFISH website or  in a mobile-friendly format so that fishers can check the weather on the go in real-time.


(L to R) Steve Threlfall, Hon. Bob Baldwin, Minister Steve Dimopoulos, Billy Parsons, Ben Scales.

AFTA Board members Vice President Billy Parsons (JM Gillies), & Secretary & Treasurer Ben Scales (Jarvis Walker), along with former AFTA Director Steve Threlfall (Trelly’s TackleWorld Shepparton), met with the Victorian Recreational Fisheries Minister Steve Dimopoulos and the VFA CEO, Travis Dowling on June 13th.

Items discussed were:

AFTA has appreciated Minister Dimopoulos’s personal support in securing a positive result on proposed legislative changes to the Animal Care and Protection Bill. However, more must be done to ensure fishing is not inadvertently affected by adopting the  Animal Care and Protection Bill and fishing activities related to Division 8 of Part 5.

The meeting canvassed the government’s progress toward delivering their Fisheries election commitments, including:

  1. The 60,000 Little Anglers Kits program, its design and delivery timeframe and further planned actions.
  2. An update on the progress of the $1.2 million grants program to help support local fishing clubs attract new members, encouraging more families to take up fishing.
  3. Detailing the Better Boating Victoria boat ramp management & parking program across Western Port Bay and Port Phillip Bay and, in particular, progress of the $74.5 million election commitment for maintaining and rebuilding local piers, jetties and boating facilities, including:
    • $22.1 million to improve 15 state ramps, jetties and car parks.
    • $12.4 million for upgrades at Tarago Reservoir, opening it up to motorised boats and recreational fishing.
    • $40 million to rebuild the Dromana Pier, St Leonards Pier and the Warneet South and North Jetties,
    • $7.2 million for ramp and car park upgrades at Lang Lang, Tooradin, Inverloch, and the expansion of the Cowes Jetty.
  4. Update on $18.8 million election commitment to boost fish stocks.
    • $10 million to triple the size of the native fish hatchery at Arcadia, near Shepparton – making Victoria fully self-sufficient for fish stocking.
    • $5 million for the next major stage of works at Snobs Creek Fish Hatchery to rebuild the 80-year-old ponds and accelerate efforts to re-establish fish populations of Macquarie Perch and Trout Cod.
    • $2.5 million in habitat improvements to preserve marine, estuarine and freshwater fisheries and support Victoria’s first indigenous-run oyster farm – with a $250,000 grant for the farm in Lakes Entrance.
    • $1 million will promote our state’s aquaculture sector, helping the industry land new investments and grow local jobs.

In addition, AFTA raised concerns over the riverfront access on Crown Leased Land being blocked by leaseholders with excuses such as fire risk, stock issues, erosion, rubbish, or no excuse at all and just locking gates.   AFTA reminded the Minister that AFTA brought the Cross Bench to support & pass this legislation. AFTA suggested that an education campaign (media/social media/entry signs) be developed to remove/take out the rubbish – a “you take it in – you take it out” campaign.

In light of recent flood events, both natural and man-made, and the negative impact on recreational fishing, AFTA raised concerns about the detrimental impacts of poorly thought out freshwater release management (environmental flows) in Goulburn/Murray Rivers on recreational fishing, as the need for more significant flows during low flow points November – February.

There is a dire need for a dry bank event <1100 megalitres in mid to late November leading up to Cod Season opening on December 1st.

The lack of Commonwealth action on Carp eradication is also hard to comprehend. Carp absolutely destroy water quality, and this impacts native species.

I personally thank Steve “Trelly” Threlfall for his local knowledge and detailed input on the Murray/Goulburn freshwater river system.

The Victorian Government’s response to our election commitment update request is available here.


Gone Fishing Day

NSW has opened applications for “Gone Fishing Day”, which will be held on October 13th 2024.   Members engaged with local clubs can apply for grants of up to $2,000. Application forms and grant funding guidelines are available here. Grant applications close on Monday, July 8th 2024.

Boat Licence Fees

AFTA has joined with the BIA on concerns over the dramatic fee increases. The  proposed Boat licence fees increase in NSW from July 1st 2024:

  1. 1 year Boat licence: was $69, now $77 (up 12 per cent)
  2. 3 year Boat licence: was $185, now $220 (up 19 per cent)
  3. 5 year Boat licence: was $292, now $351 (up 20 per cent)
  4. 10 year Boat licence: was $521, now $679 (up 30 per cent)

In addition, Personal Watercraft (PWC) licence fees increase by up to 88%.


Offshore Windfarms

The Federal Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, declared the 1022 km2 NSW Illawarra Offshore Windfarm Zone on Saturday, June 15th. This is in addition to the 1854 km2 Hunter Offshore Windfarm Zone. That amounts to 2876 km2 of the most productive prime pelagic tournament fishing grounds in NSW, not to mention the impact on those that deep drop or deep jig for other species.

A significant issue for recreational fishers is the proposed exclusion zones being indicated as 1.5klm from any structure or cable. Whilst these structures will be a FAD, if recfishers are not able to access the structure, then it will be to the absolute detriment of recfishers.

The Hunter Offshore Windfarm Zone was plotted using tag data from the NSW DPI game fish tagging program. There were 13,105 Marlin Tags recorded between 2004 and 2024, noting that most dots have multiple tags recorded at one location, and this does not include marlin that were captured or not tagged as a part of the program. Source: NSW DPI

Offshore Windfarm Sites:

Gippsland (VIC)                     15000 km2,        approved 19th December 2022

Southern Ocean (VIC)            1030 km2,        approved March 6th 2024

Hunter (NSW)                        1854 km2            approved July 12th 2023

Illawarra (NSW)                     1022 km2,        approved 15th June 2024

Bass Straight (TAS)                10136 km2,        proposed

Bunbury (WA)                        7674 km2,        proposed

These prime locations will impact not only recreational & commercial fishers, broader marine life and the tourism market.


Over the next 12 months, there will be elections in:


August 24th 24

Issues to be raised:

  • Removal of 14 commercial Barramundi Gill Nets in NT
  • Resource sharing – commercial Barramundi 350 – 400t Daly & Roper Rivers
  • Recreational angler access to Indigenous held lands
  • Golden Snapper,
  • Black Jewfish


October 26th 24

Issues to be raised:

  • Removal of Gill Netting on Mary River
  • Removal of Morton Bay Gill Nets
  • Spanish Mackerel boat limits
  • Snapper fishery bag limits
  • Black Jewfish bag limits
  • Crab Pot regulations.


March 8th 25

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.
  • Banning the importation of Crab Pots that don’t comply with Australia-wide state legislation.

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.

Tight Lines & Full Tills,