AFTA Chair’s Report – November 2023
“Gillnet fishing involves using fine-meshed nets at river mouths or estuaries that catch “everything”. They catch dugong, turtles, dolphins, and Saw sharks; they catch fish they are not aiming for. The bycatch rate is massive from these floating death walls.”
QLD Gill Nets – OUT!!!
On the November 16th, I joined AFTA Directors Steve Morgan (Fishing Monthly), Kord Lukus & Graham Wilson (Wilson Tackle) at Parliament House Brisbane to attend a press conference in support of the decision by Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner to commence the progressive elimination of commercial Gill Netting on December 31st, 2023 throughout North Qld and the GBRMP.
There are enormous environmental and sustainability benefits as these indiscriminate “walls of death” will no longer affect the dugongs, dolphins, turtles, saw sharks and other bycatch.
This is excellent news for the recreational fishing industry, an industry of over 1 million Qld recreational fishers that sustains 24,000 jobs and generates $1.2b for the Qld GDP.
AFTA is also pleased that the commercial fishers will receive fair and adequate compensation. Those with gillnet fishing licenses will be taken at market value and receive three years of ex gratia payments in lieu of income.
The recommendation to the Minister to stop the use of Gill Nets came from a report by John Tanzer, chair of the Future Fishing Taskforce.
AFTA was well represented at the inaugural online stakeholders planning meeting to establish the “NSW Peak Recreational Fishing Body”, an election commitment of the newly elected Labor government.
I was joined by AFTA Past President Col Tannahill (Shimano) & Tom Slater (Daiwa) as Jane Gallichan (TARFISH) provided a detailed presentation to over 40 attendees on the actual role of a peak body, the governance requirements and independence of the peak body board.
There are still many phases to go in this process. Still, allocating realistic financial support and correct board membership for the proposed NSW peak body is critical to its success and longevity as it represents recreational fishers across the state.
Offshore Windfarm’s UPDATE
– Illawarra Region NSW
The timeframe for submissions on the Illawarra Offshore Windfarm was extended from October 16th to November 15th, and now we await Minister Bowen’s decision.
Despite claims from the University of Wollongong that there is no negative impact on marine life from the establishment of Offshore Windfarms, an article in the New York Post on August 26th, “No evidence on the impact to whales, a new documentary ‘proves’ building offshore wind farms does kill whales” clearly disputes that assertion.
The report by Michael Shellenberger highlights that this new documentary “Thrown to the Wind” ‘proves’ that building offshore wind farms does kill whales in 2 ways.
“Whales are, as the conservationists in “Thrown to the Wind” explain, magnificent spiritual beings, not just great biological ones. There appear to be at least two distinct mechanisms by which wind industry activities are killing whales.
The first is through boat traffic in areas where there hasn’t historically been traffic. The second is through high-decibel sonar mapping that can disorient whales, separate mothers from their calves, and send them into harm’s way, either into boat traffic or poorer feeding grounds.
Whale deaths caused by boat strikes are not unrelated to windfarm works — as some have sought to claim — but fuelled by them.”
Noosa River Catchment Management Plan (NRCMP) – Halted in its tracks!!
AFTA made urgent and successful representations to Noosa Councillors on members’ behalf and broadly circulated a letter critical of the process and the total lack of transparency on the proposed Noosa River Catchment Management Plan (NRCMP).
Whilst the Noosa Council cited the high level of consultation in Appendix 3 of the NRCMP, it was evident from the community and stakeholder reaction it was insufficient; furthermore, the NRCMP appeared to be so secretive as it was not publicly available on the Noosa Council website and that is a failing in communication and transparency by any standard.
At the meeting on October 26th, the Noosa Council vote was evenly split, and thanks to Mayor Clare Stewart using her casting vote, it was moved to defer any decision on the NRCMP until July 2024, when a newly elected Council will be in place following the March 2024 election. This will at least allow time for proper consultation, transparency and perhaps a freshly elected council that listens to the whole of their community.
This positive outcome was in part due to the tireless efforts of AFTA members Shannon Watson (SE & Central QLD Manager, Daiwa Australia), Peter Wells (Davo’s Tackleworld, Noosa) and Qld AFTA Director Kord Lukus (Wilson Tackle) providing on the ground advise and advocacy.