AFTA Chair’s Report – October 2023

“The AFTA directors provided great insight, but more information is needed. AFTA works with the various State Peak Bodies, many of which are AFTA members; however, we need your direct input as industry members whose livelihood and business development require more action than those who just fish.”

The Hon.Bob Baldwin

Independent Chair, AFTA

AFTA Board

AFTA held its first board meeting since the AFTA trade show in Sydney on October 18, commencing with a review of the success of the trade show, a review that saw positive record number increases in every aspect.

AFTA is now working on an evolving industry strategy that is more proactive than reactive, and whilst we cannot pre-empt government decisions, we can be prepared to respond in a determined manner.

AFTA’s engagement program around the corridors of all parliaments will increase. While mindful of limited resources, the program will be outcomes-focused to benefit the recreational fishing trade.


Western Australia Demersal Closures

On October 19, I, along with AFTA members Ben Patrick (Halco Tackle), Brian Marshall (Compleat Angler Nedlands) and Ash Ramm (Tackle World Miami), met with Libby Mettam MP, Western Australian Leader of the Opposition at Parliament House to discuss the outrageous demersal closures and the devastating impact that decision is having on both our retail and wholesale trade. AFTA stated we need a positive statement on what the Opposition will do once in government. In addition, we took the opportunity to explain the AFTA position on the impending Offshore Wind Farm proposal between Mandurah & Bunbury, which is currently under an environmental scoping study from the WA EPA.

Libby Mettam took on the issues as discussed. AFTA will present an election policy manifest for the Liberal Party to consider ahead of the next election.

Ben Patrick, Halco Tackle, Libby Mettam, WA Leader of the Opposition, AFTA Ambassadors, Brian Marshall & Ash Ramm with AFTA Chair, Bob Baldwin

New Victorian Minister

Premier Jacinta Allen & Minister Steve Dimopolous

With the recent retirement of Daniel Andrews as Premier and the election of Jacinta Allan as Premier, it has brought with it a minor portfolio reshuffle.

The recreational fishing industry has moved from the Agriculture portfolio to the Outdoor Recreation portfolio, which is more fitting for our industry.

AFTA thanks Minister Sonya Kilkenny for her proactive engagement with our recreational fishing industry and welcomes the appointment of Steve Dimopoulos  MP as Minister for Outdoor Recreation. Minister Dimopoulos is also the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.

One of Minister Dimopoulos’s first actions was to announce the opening of the Victorian Recreational Fishing Grants Program. The program is open to fishing clubs, community groups, incorporated bodies, and government and statutory bodies. Intermediate grants tailored for fishing clubs are available for projects up to $50,000, while smaller grants are available for projects up to $5,000. The Grant Program is open until February 29 2024.

Offshore Windfarm’s UPDATE


It is without reservation that the AFTA Board’s primary concern is the impact of Offshore Wind Farms on recreational fishers and, therefore, on our recreational fishing trade as a whole. With that imprimatur in mind, we (AFTA) review and, where appropriate, support other groups in a loose coalition against the Offshore Windfarms. AFTA is all about the outcomes for our members and our industry.

Hunter Rally News:

Peter Dutton, Leader of the Oposition and AFTA Ambassador, Brent Hancock (Tackle World Port Stephens)

The Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, visited The Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fishing Club on September 27 and met with AFTA Ambassador Brent Hancock and other members of the recreational fishing community. Peter Dutton stated Opposition to the wind farm and demanded greater consultation.

Peter Dutton stated: “The consultation process just hasn’t been up to scratch, and I think this is another project where Chris Bowen has misread the community, is acting against the best interest of this region,” Mr Dutton said on Wednesday. 

“This project needs to be put on hold until a proper consultation process can be undertaken.”

The News of the Area (NOTA) reported on the meeting: Consultation Conundrum: Dutton Calls For Offshore Wind Projects To Be Halted and whilst the original proposals for Offshore Windfarms were commenced under a Morrison Coalition Government, the Albanese Labor government has taken this as a green light and is accelerating the process.

There is broad community concern over the range of environmental impacts of the Hunter Offshore wind farm; this has resulted in around 2000 people turning out at a rally at Nelson Bay on October 7.

Part of the 2000-strong crowd at the Port Stephens protest rally

The rally was addressed by several people, including AFTA Ambassador Brent Hancock (Tackleworld Port Stephens) and New England MP Barnaby Joyce, One Nation’s MLC, Tania Mihaliuk & One Nation candidate for Paterson, Mark Watson

Illawarra Region NSW

The Illawarra Offshore Wind Farm Proposal

The timeframe for submissions on the Illawarra Offshore Wind Farm closed on October 16.

The Illawarra Mercury reported on October 4:  Thousands of residents unite to fight Illawarra offshore wind farms.

Through the Shellharbour Game Fishing Club, our industry has raised over 10,000 signatures on a petition opposing the proposed lease area for the Illawarra region and is planning a public rally that will be held shortly to demonstrate to the government local anger on this proposal.

Like the Hunter zone, this proposed area is across prime recreational fishing areas. Given the proximity to the shore, recreational fishing impacts will be absolutely devastating.


South Australia Snapper Fishery

AFTA welcomes the announcement of an increased bag limit for Snapper limits in the South East Fishery Zone this week. Snapper catch limits have increased for recreational non-charter fishers in the South East Fishery Zone following recent record recruitment events and increasing snapper stocks.

From Wednesday, October 18, the following daily limits are:

  • Bag limit: 2 (personal daily bag limit) up from 1 person.
  • Boat limit: 6 (applies when 3 or more people are fishing on board), up from 3 per boat.
  • Size limit: 38cm

Charter boat fishing trip limits remain the same.

For more information on the new Snapper catch limits, visit


Noosa local government action affecting recreational fishing

It is with great alarm and concern that we learn of the plan by the Noosa Shire Council to implement a conservation zone across all waterways in the Noosa region via the Noosa River Catchment Management Plan.

Of most concern is that the Council is rushing this proposal through with a planned council vote on October 26 and that in the Section on Recreational Fishing (pages 30 &31), it states:

The recommended approach to manage sustainable fisheries is to take an ecosystem-based approach focused on the management of biodiversity.

Aiming for 60% biomass and a 33.3% no-take of all bioregions in the Noosa River estuary meets Australia’s commitment to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity at the local level. (ref: The Convention on Biological Diversity (2016).

A working group of locals has been established with the following agenda:

  • The main goal is to stop the Council from voting “yes” to the draft plan on October 26.
  • To see this plan deferred to after the March 2024 Council election?
  • To create a community of passionate individuals where everyone can openly communicate regarding issues that impact us as Noosa locals.


October In Summary


I need industry on-the-ground input to progress our pathway across the many states.

In that vein, it is a salient reminder that the elections in the Northern Territory (August 24, 2024), the ACT (October 19, 2024) and QLD (October 26, 2024), so I ask AFTA members to contribute towards policy ideas and opinions on both the positive and negative actions of the relevant government to allow a truly representative industry policy proposal to all political parties in each state.

Meeting with Ministers and MPs advocating our position is not much use if we don’t know what we are asking for; your local knowledge of this input is critical!!

The AFTA directors provided great insight, but more information is needed. AFTA works with the various State Peak Bodies, many of which are AFTA members; however, we need your direct input as industry members whose livelihood and business development require more action than those who just fish.


So, Tight Lines & Full Tills.