AFTA Chair’s Report – May 2024

“AFTA unreservedly stands by Qld Fisheries Minister Mark Furner on removing gillnets in the Gulf just as we did the removal of gillnets on the Qld East Coast.”

The Hon.Bob Baldwin

Independent Chair, AFTA


AFTA was well represented by President Michael Starkey (Frogley’s Offshore), Qld Director Kord Luckus (Wilson Fishing), Patron & Past President Col Tannahill (Shimano) & former NSW Director Mitch Birt (Pure Fishing) at a meeting with Mark Furner MP, QLD Minister for Fisheries & Qld Senator & Federal Minister for Fisheries, Murray Watt in Brisbane (3/5/24).

Left to Right Murray Watt (QLD Senator & Federal Minister for Fisheries), Former AFTA Director, Mitch Birt (Pure Fishing), QLD AFTA Director Kord Luckus (Wilson Fishing), Mark Furner MP (QLD Minister for Fisheries), AFTA President Michael Starkey (Frogley’s Offshore), and AFTA Patron & Immediate Past President Col Tannahill (Shimano) at dinner in Brisbane May 3rd, 2024.

AFTA took the opportunity to continue our campaign to ban gillnetting in the Mary River and across the Gulf of Carpentaria.

AFTA welcomed the announcement just days later that the new Gulf of Carpentaria gillnet-free areas will take effect from 17th May 2024. The persistent lobbying effort from AFTA has paid off.

AFTA thanks Minister Furner for consulting, listening to AFTA’s concerns, and taking strong, rapid, and positive action. AFTA unreservedly stand by Qld Fisheries Minister Mark Furner on the removal of gillnets in the Gulf just as we did the removal of gillnets on the Qld East Coast.

AFTA will now continue our Gulf of Carpentaria focus with the Northern Territory Government to make the whole of the Gulf a gillnet-free zone. We have asked Minister Furner to reach out across the border to NT Minister Joel Bowden.

AFTA also had the opportunity to meet with Shadow Minister Tony Perrett at Parliament House to discuss AFTA’s policy agenda for the next term of government.

The AFTA QLD 2024 Recreational Fishing Policy election agenda will be posted online soon.


At the recent meeting in Brisbane, the Federal Minister for Fisheries, Senator Murray Watt, was called upon to address the pressing issue of the White Spot disease outbreaks and resultant area fishing closures.

This disease has been entering Australia through the importation of raw green prawns, which are subsequently used as bait due to their cost-effectiveness. It is possible that recreational fishers using crustaceans infected with White Spot disease as bait can unintentionally spread the virus, which can result in river closures. Currently, a situation exists in Evans Head and Clarence River, NSW.

The Impacts of these outbreaks of the White Spot disease have far-reaching implications. It not only affects the health of our river system but also restricts access to native prawn baits. This includes stocks from aquaculture prawn farms, a significant part of the local economy and biodiversity.

To protect Australia’s biosecurity, the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) recommends that all imported prawns must undergo a specific heat time and temperature parameter that effectively kills the White Spot disease. This measure is similar to the one applied in the poultry industry to prevent the entry of Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease into Australia and other raw meat products.

The White Spot disease entering Australia through imported raw green prawns is a serious concern that requires immediate attention. The proposed measures by AFTA provide a viable solution to mitigate the impact of this disease. It is imperative for the relevant authorities, including the Federal Minister for Fisheries, Murray Watt, to take swift action to implement these measures to safeguard Australia’s biosecurity.


Victorian Recreational Fisheries Minister Steve Dimopoulos has scheduled a meeting with AFTA on 13th June to discuss several issues of concern to AFTA members. AFTA has appreciated Minister Dimopoulos’s personal support in securing a positive result on proposed legislative changes to the Animal Care and Protection Bill.

AFTA also congratulate the Victorian government for delivering on the $2.7m election commitment to establish the Snobs Creek Hatchery

Western Australia

Offshore Windfarms

The WA Offshore Windfarm proposal submissions closed on 3rd May.    The issue is gaining momentum, with vocal political opposition from local state and federal Western Australian politicians.

Liberal leader Libby Mettam has called for the State Government to make its views clear on South West offshore wind farms, whilst  Federal Member for Canning Andrew Hastie has raised serious concerns over a proposed wind farm off the coast of Dawesville and officially opposed the offshore wind farm development in his submission.

Marine Parks

Members are also reminded of the proposed  Southern Marine Park Zones. It is appreciated that with local knowledge, RECFISHWEST has provided some detailed analysis of the proposals and possible measures to mitigate the impact on recreational fishers.

Submissions close on 16th June 2024


Funding for a new artificial reef off WA’s Carnarvon Coast

AFTA welcomes the announcement of $1.4 million to create a new artificial reef off the Carnarvon coast, providing a new recreational fishing hot spot for the Gascoyne region.

This is the appropriate use of money collected from recreational fishing licence fees in the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

The Carnarvon Reef will be the eighth artificial reef to enter the water along the Western Australian coastline. Other reefs are off Ocean Reef, Dunsborough, Bunbury, Mandurah, south of Rottnest Island, Esperance and Exmouth Gulf.


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


24th August 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


26th October 24

Issues to be raised:

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


8th March 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,