The Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) have warned the SA Government that the gloves are off over the radical plan for closure of the SA Snapper Fishery from 1 November 2019 to 28 February 2023.
“The greatest impact of the four-season ban will be on Recfishers and the many small businesses they support. It’s not just the tackle shops that will be impacted, but the whole of the tourism sector” AFTA Chair, Bob Baldwin said.
“By choosing “Option B” the SA Government has shown it was only prepared to serve the interests of Commercial Fishers, the very people who have overfished Snapper stocks for decades.”
“Option B” allows Snapper to be caught (seasonally) to the South East of Kangaroo Island. These waters present hazardous situations for Recfishers in small boats, yet suit the work of the commercial fishers.
“To add insult to injury, the SA Government is not providing any financial support to the retail industry, yet is spending Recfisher tax dollars compensating the commercial fishery.”
“What defies logic, is the government has not addressed the key issue into the future, “Bag Limits”
“AFTA recognises the need to develop a sustainable Snapper Fishery and that is why in it’s submission to Minister Tim Whetstone, AFTA highlighted the need to reduce bag limits to 1 fish per person per day, to develop a tag and release program and to introduce a recreational fishing license so the government had a better understanding of exactly how many Recfishers are in SA and an accurate assessment of their impact.
South Australian AFTA members have expressed deep concern over the lack of details of the “Harvest Tag” system. Questions remain as to how many tags will be provided and who will receive them.
“Doing a low-level telephone survey on recfishing and then extrapolating the result across the state is “cloud cuckoo land” stuff, not the work of a government that wants to make informed, responsible decisions,” Bob Baldwin said.
“AFTA acknowledges that the Minister had to act after years of financial neglect by former governments, but this measure is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater and making Recfishers wear the brunt of the decision”
AFTA calls on the Minister to rethink the plan and adopt measures in AFTA’s “Option C” that make fishing safer, sustainable and protect the reputation of South Australia as the home of supersized Snapper.
For further comment please call:
The Hon Bob Baldwin
Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA)
Key Points from the AFTA “Option C” proposal:
- Reduced bag limit to 1 snapper per day across the State, reassessed after 4 seasons.
- Introduction and promotion of a Tag & Release program to build an accurate scientific database on all mainstream fish, not just snapper.
- Introduction of a Fishing License, supported by a mobile app, suggested at $30. This would provide an accurate analysis of the number of Recfishers, and an ability to ascertain the actual catch by recreational fishers, not just a wild guess. All T&R could be managed by this mobile app. Note : All funds collected to be hypothecated towards recfishing benefit, not put into Government consolidated revenue. This fund to be matched by Govt funding on an agreed matching $$ basis and overseen by the existing recfishing committee
- Government to properly fund fisheries research to better assess fish stocks to avoid this situation occurring again.
- An inter-governmental committee, overseen by Commonwealth, including South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania be established to examine the science and action plan for sustainability.Important to note that fish taken in Commonwealth waters are not affected, except in transit through state waters .
- Increased fish hatcheries to help restock snapper into the wild (noting there are 2 different regional DNA in snapper)
- Increase fishery compliance officers to enforce new limits, this will be required regardless of which option is chosen.
- Mandate barotrauma release weight system to release fish and assist in species survival
- Remove prawn trawling from aggregation/spawning areas