The Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc. (TARFish) has delivered its election priority statement Better Fishing for Everyone to all three Tasmanian political parties seeking wide-ranging commitments in support of Tasmania’s 100,000 recreational fishers.

TARFish CEO, Jane Gallichan said, “We represent over 100,000 Tasmanian recreational fishers who are keen to see policies and commitments that demonstrate the value they place on recreational fishers and the Tasmanian way of life.

“We’re off to a great start with the initial infrastructure announcements by both the Liberal and Labor parties over the weekend. That said, we want to see more than just infrastructure spending, we want to see how they will make this most Tasmanian of past-times better for everyone.”

The Better Fishing for Everyone priority statement seeks investment in a recovery plan for flathead, support for older Tasmanians to keep fishing and importantly providing clear protections for recreational fishers by fixing access to rock lobster on the East Coast.

“We’ve waited long enough. It’s time for both Liberal and Labor to commit to fixing recreational fishing access to rock lobster on the East coast. It’s time that we were more involved in decision making and its time that recreational fishing be recognised as a valid and valued part of the economy and shareholders in the marine estate.

To do that, TARFish has proposed the establishment of a Recreational Fishing Trust Account administered by an independent Board with funds to be used for; research, improving sustainability and promoting policies and programs that support recreational fishing and to provide base funding for the peak body and ensure its independence.

Funding for the Recreational Fishing Trust Account would come from current recreational fishing licence fees and boosted by new or existing commercial resource royalties and from an aquaculture expansion offset levy. A proportion of those are then guaranteed to support recreational fishing – effectively recreational fishers become shareholders in our shared marine estate.

“I don’t believe that many Tasmanians know that the Government currently subsidises the lucrative commercial rock lobster and abalone fisheries to the tune of around $1 million a year. That money could be spent on better access, better management and better fishing for Tasmanians.”

“At the same time they are subsidised, for example, commercial rock lobster quota owners pay no royalties on the profits they make. Forestry pays royalties, mining pays royalties but not the commercial fishing quota owners and not the aquaculture industry.

“For many years, successive governments have prioritised the economic returns to the commercial fishing quota owners and we would like to see those returns shared by the Tasmanian community and recreational fishers,” she concluded.