AFTA Chairs Report:
I find it hard to believe the “Perfect Storm” of events that have impacted each and every member of our industry since October last year. The bushfires, the floods, and now the COVID-19 lockdowns are all taking their toll, but the resilience of our members is to be admired. Our Wholesale members have worked hard with our Retailers to ensure business survival. The Governments Job-Keeper program has been a savior to many in keeping staff and doors open, buy there is still a long way to go.
No sooner than AFTA established the Disaster Relief Fund and commenced a roll out program with local AFTA member committees to get people back into affected communities, the COVID lockdowns put all those good plans on hold.
AFTA worked long and hard directly with Ministers & Governments across Australia to keep recreational fishing open as essential exercise and a means of food gathering. In all states except Victoria we had immediate success. I am happy to report that Victoria has now come onboard and allows Recreational Fishing, but we cannot be complacent as an industry, we must ensure that all the rules are adhered to, otherwise it will be at our detriment.
As you are aware, the AFTA Trade show has been cancelled for this year due to restrictions, but with your support the Trade Show we will come back bigger and stronger in 2021.
It was disappointing to see EFTTA ignoring AFTA trade show dates by putting EFTEX on the same dates. Thank you to Ben Patrick (Halco) and Pat Levy (JM Gillies) for standing up for the Australian industry. See article: https://www.angling-international.com/eftta-criticised-for-ignoring-afta-trade-show-dates/
Working with government is critical to the recovery, making sure that our industry voice is heard!!
At the last Board Meeting in Brisbane, AFTA met with Minister Mark Furner to discuss fisheries policies and issues affecting our members. I thank Kord Luckus, Wilson Tackle for providing valuable local (QLD) policy information, in particular, on the outrageous situation where recreational capture of Black Jewfish was stopped, because the commercial sector had reached its quota. We stressed to the Minister that the Recreational catch on all species must be separated from the commercial quota. See Video: https://afta.net.au/afta-meets-with-qld-minister-for-fisheries-the-hon-mark-furner-mp/
AFTA also took the opportunity to meet with Qld Shadow Minister, Tony Perret to raise these issues ahead of the election in October this year.
AFTA Board members had a very productive meeting with Minister for Primary Industry, Adam Marshall MP discussing issues such as recfishing infrastructure and marine parks. After the opening up of fishing zones in southern NSW, Minister Marshall was glad to be on the record “ No more Marine Parks”, see Video: https://afta.net.au/nsw-minister-adam-marshall-rules-out-any-further-nsw-marine-parks/
The Covid restrictions originally saw recreational fishing banned in NSW. Things were very difficult for NSW at the beginning, AFTA thank Minister, David Elliot for personally talking up the fight for recreational fishing to be deemed exercise.
Following on from this AFTA have had a seat at the NSW COVID-19 Rec Hunting and Fishing Working Group, putting forward all options to government. These have included having the FAD program extended to the maximum time frame considering whale movements and need for cleaning. From this NSW DPI announced that there will be 4 new FAD’s rolled out next year, 1 in northern NSW, 2 off Sydney and 1 down the South Coast. AFTA suggested that a structure be placed on the seabed under the FAD’s to hold a base level of biomass to expedite the effectiveness of the annual placement of the FAD’s. This is being investigated.
The NSW Government is also increasing the number of Artificial Reefs, details to come. AFTA thank Jim Harnwell, NSW DPI for his engagement and in particular his advocacy on behalf of the sector.
After representations from AFTA, we have been assured that the Great Lakes/Port Stephens Marine Park – Draft Management Plan Review should be released in the coming weeks.
It was somewhat disappointing that Victoria, once the stand out state for Recfishing, was the last state to open the way for recreational fishing. AFTA was critical of the Victorian Government being out of step with the other states. The impact on businesses during the heat of the season was massive and will take some time to recover. See Press Release: https://afta.net.au/victoria-out-of-step-standing-alone-against-recfishers/ and https://afta.net.au/why-is-victoria-standing-alone-against-recfishers/ .
AFTA continued the lobbying process, engaging with both Fisheries Minister Jaala Pulford, and Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien. AFTA thank them both for their personal efforts. AFTA thank member David Kramer for his tireless advocacy in bringing about the correct result.
The working relationship between AFTA & Travis Dowling, CEO VFA is stronger than ever. AFTA supported the VFA and our members with a Submission to the Goulburn Murray Trade Rule Review as well as working on the very successful SBT outcome. See: https://afta.net.au/submission-to-the-goulburn-murray-trade-rule-review/
The Premier, Steve Marshall & Fisheries Minister, Tim Whetstone reached out to AFTA to join a COVID working group to get people back out fishing.
Fishing is a key driver for tourism, particularly in regional areas throughout SA. Whilst the agricultural industries may be the bigger dollar earner, tourism is by far the bigger employer providing the most effective and consistent economic models to spread the dollar benefit.
AFTA suggested to the Premier that one of the best ways to get people back out fishing and spending with confidence again was to show leadership by example and holding a media event out about him and his ministers, with their families, actually going out fishing.
AFTA made a submission to SA PIRSA on Fisheries Management. The submission was developed with the feedback from our South Australian Members. I would thank all SA members, and in particular Ian Clift & Brian Wheadon for their input. See: https://afta.net.au/submission-on-the-draft-management-plan-for-recreational-fishing-in-south-australia/
We are in constant constructive dialogue with Sara Bray, Minister Whetstones Fisheries Advisor and Skye Barret, PIRSA seeking opportunities to work together to benefit Recfishers.
We congratulate Premier Peter Gutwein and Guy Barnett, Minister for Primary Industries and Water on Tasmania being the first state to approve recreational fishing as a means of exercise. This was in part what enabled other states to follow through with their decision.
However, we have had to continue to lobby Minister Barnett about the disparity in access to boat ramps outside your local municipality. It would appear somewhat confusing to recreational fishers that you can travel outside your municipality to fish from a jetty or beach, but you are not able to launch your boat under the Tasmanian COVID restrictions. I have been assured that the matter is being addressed.
AFTA have also been engaging with Shadow Minister, Shane Broad MLA on this matter.
AFTA have been working with ANFANT CEO, David Ciaravolo to get the message out through our networks on the COVID restrictions, in particular the message about fishing restrictions in designated biosecurity areas. For more detailed information on the Designated Areas, all current NT COVID19 fishing rules, as well as useful links and maps visit the info page: www.afant.com.au/COVID19
AFTA were represented at Minister Jonathan Duniam’s Recreational Fishing Council Conference hosted by the FRDC.
During the meeting AFTA raised issues with the effectiveness and complexity of the National Recreational Fishing Survey. I must acknowledge the support from AFTA members in generously donated 12 weekly prize packs to encourage Recfishers to get on board. Other topics covered were Habitat Restoration Program, Recreational Fishing and Camping, Facilities Program & Capacity building for fishing representatives, the National Fisheries Plan, Gone Fishing Day, the Southern Bluefin Tuna recreational set aside and feedback on the Commonwealth Fisheries Resource Sharing Framework consultation.
We welcomed the Ministers recent announcement on SBT outcomes for recreational fishing, see details at: https://afta.net.au/recreational-fishers-to-continue-to-enjoy-southern-bluefin-tuna-fishing/ .
AFTA has continued the process for a more representative share and acknowledgement for RecFishers through the FRDC Resource Sharing Submission, a copy is available at: https://afta.net.au/submission-on-the-commonwealth-fisheries-resource-sharing-network/
Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF)
As AFTA Chair, I have taken on the role representing AFTA on the ARFF Board. Due to work commitments, AFTA Director, Steve Morgan stepped down at the ARFF AGM, we thank Steve for his tireless efforts in representing AFTA on the board.
I also take the opportunity to thank recently retired Chair, Brett Cleary for his work with ARFF, in particular the contribution on the Southern Bluefin Tuna outcome.
ARFF are working towards building a stronger nation-wide support for “Gone Fishing Day” in October (subject to COVID) which AFTA is also working to promote during government engagement.
2020 Election Updates
The election timetable for 2020 is:
NT August 2020
Minister: Hon Paul Andrew Kirby MLA
Shadow Minister: Mr Garry Higgins MLA
ACT October 2020
Minister: Andrew Barr, Chief Minister
Shadow Minister: Alistair Coe, Leader of the Opposition
Queensland October 2020
Minister: Hon Mark Furner MP
Shadow Minister: Mr Anthony (Tony) Perrett MP
Western Australia March 2021
Minister: Hon Dave J Kelly MLA
Shadow Minister: Ian Blaney MLA