The NSW Coalition 2019 Policy Response for your consideration.

Dear Mr Tannahill,

I write in response to your letter of 13 February 2019 relating to the NSW Liberals and Nationals’ support for recreational fishing in NSW.

Recreational fishing in NSW has an important place in the social fabric of our great state. There are around 1 million recreational fishers and the industry generates around $3.4 billion of economic activity.

However, fishing isn’t about numbers and dollar figures; it’s about getting away from the distractions of life and work, connecting with family and friends, and of course being able to land a nice catch.

As an avid fisher, I enjoy nothing more than taking my son fishing on the weekend. I am a firm believer in less time on the x box and more time in the tackle box.

I agree with your sentiment about fishers being part of the solution going forward. Fishers are key to identifying where Government should be investing more resources, working in partnership to manage fish stocks and maintain a healthy marine environment.

Since the Liberals and Nationals came to Government in 2011, we have delivered more opportunities for fishing. Some of the things I’m most proud of are the deployment of offshore artificial reefs (there are still another five in the pipeline), establishing the annual Gone Fishing Day and rolling out the Eco Huts program to provide discounted holiday accommodation near good fishing spots.

In relation to your question regarding the Port Stephens – Great Lakes Marine Park, it is important to note that before undertaking any marine park reviews, a number of key pieces of legislation, regulation and policy needed to be developed first. Unfortunately, we did not have confidence in the methods of marine park planning undertaken by the previous Labor government, which was confirmed as lacking by

the independent scientific audit of marine parks the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government commissioned in 2011.

I am conscious that when all six marine parks in NSW were put in place under the previous Labor Government, fishers felt that their views were not fairly considered, let alone that the biggest threats and risks such as water quality were taken into account. The reforms we have undertaken seek to address these inadequacies and ensure that social and economic factors are given weight in decision making, as well as applying a threat and risk lens to marine park planning, rather than the principles of comprehensive, adequate and representative used previously in marine planning.

Now that we have established the new approach, the Liberals and Nationals will immediately review the Port Stephens – Great Lakes marine park. This will include extensive community consultation and the assistance of the marine park advisory committee.

As you may be aware, Labor has announced their signature recreational fishing policy – a statutory authority called RecFish NSW, to oversee expenditure from the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund.

I am advised the cost of this body could be in excess of $1M per year. Presumably, all of these costs are to be borne by the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund, which collects the money recreational fishers pay for their licence fees and is spent on initiatives to improve recreational fishing.

If Labor’s commitment becomes a reality, recreational fishers would see a reduction in projects funded through the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund. Some examples of projects that total around $4M each over the next four years, are:

  • Deploying 4 offshore artificial reefs;
  • Building 80 fishing platforms;
  • Building 133 fish cleaning tables;
  • Doubling fish habitat restoration funding;
  • Employing 7 new compliance officers.

It seems there is little interest from the fishing community in having yet another committee, when the Trust Fund’s expenditure is already overseen by three committees made up of fishers and publishes expenditure. Mums and dads who take their kids fishing on the weekend shouldn’t have to pay for a committee no one wants. Labor is clearly serving the interests of a few of their mates, at the expense of the majority who just want to get out and fish!

The Liberals and Nationals aren’t interested in ripping off the fishers of NSW to create more bureaucracy. If returned to Government, we will keep providing the infrastructure (such as reefs, fishing platforms, fish cleaning tables), restocking programs, education and research needed to make fishing better in NSW, which will see more opportunities for a diverse range of people to go fishing.

I would like to thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of the recreational fishing sector. I value the strong relationship we have formed as we work towards the common goal of growing the recreational fishing industry in NSW. I intend to continue working closely with AFTA in the next period of Government, should we be re- elected.

Yours sincerely

The Hon Niall Blair MLC
Minister for Primary Industries Minister for Regional Water
Minister for Trade and Industry

Remember, AFTA does not advocate for any political party, all policies are presented as provided in a non partisan way. It is up to the individual to determine their vote