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I Found The Letter To The Premier

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Hi Geoff

Excellent letter. Although we talk about the 'Green' influence when mentioning Marine Parks the government and some sectors of the fishing community still do not seem to realise that most recreational fishermen are 'Green', we support bag limits, licensing, humane fish handling, better scientific research and the enforcement of laws (as noted by your letter). We want sustainable fishing, actually we want the fish stocks to improve. The commercial fishing industry needs to take a more active role in the preservation of fish numbers and species by looking long term at their industry and not just a short term 'money in the wallet' policy which seems to exist in many areas of commercial fishing, this applies to the pollies as well. The anti fishing conservationists also need to realise that recreational fishing (and the fees raised from recreational fishing along with the money put back into local business', as noted in your letter) is one of the best ways to manage our natural resources, as shown in Canada and the US their policies regarding sustainable hunting and fishing have actually restored species to areas where they were once thought to have disappeared altogether.



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G'day Evil

Why not just post the whole letter here for all to see. :biggrin2:

The Premier

Hon. Morris Iemma

Parliament House


Dear Premier

I am writing to express the deepest concerns of the members of the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing about developments in consultation on the Batemans Bay Marine Park. In particular they are concerned about the possible impact of erosion on Recreational Fishing Havens by Marine Park Sanctuary Zones.

In 2001 the recreational fishers of NSW undertook lengthy and detailed negotiations with the government on the introduction of a general recreational fishing fee. The government’s proposal to charge a fee for all recreational fishing was underpinned by rock solid promises to swiftly introduce a number of measures to improve recreational fishing. Recreational fishers accepted this promise and the fee was implemented with little opposition and has been well supported.

The key platform was the introduction of Recreational Fishing Havens along the coast to improve fishing in estuaries. To its credit, the government followed through with a comprehensive public consultation phase resulting in the creation of 30 RFHs. The RFHs were funded by a loan which is being repaid using money from the recreational fishing fee from the Saltwater Trust. Recreational fishers are paying for the RFHs. Subsequently research has shown the benefits to recreational catches from these areas.

The Council is therefore extremely worried by the recent proposals for the Batemans Bay Marine Park that would see Sanctuary Zones that ban recreational fishing imposed on a number of RFHs. If this occurs, they believe that the contract between the government and recreational fishers will have been broken and support for the fee will plummet. There is all likelihood of a campaign against the fee with dire consequences for the programs funded from the Trust Funds.

If recreational fishers see RFHs being turned into “no fishing” zones, a wide scale, concerted and vigorous anti-fee campaign run through tackle shops across the state can be expected. Not only will the fall in revenue undermine the many research, compliance and fisheries enhancement programs funded by the fee, but the public disobedience campaign will create a compliance nightmare for the government. If fee revenue collapses, the government will still be liable for the $2 million per annum repayment on the loan that funded the RFH buyouts in the first place.

The Council therefore respectfully ask the government to ensure that the RFHs remain untouched by the Marine Parks process and capable of delivering on the commitments made by the government in 2001. To do otherwise would prejudice the many benefits that recreational fishers have derived from payment of the fee to date.

Recreational anglers are becoming increasingly disaffected by the size and complexity of the Sanctuary Zones in Marine Parks. The first Marine Park to be proclaimed in NSW, the Solitary Islands Marine Park was agreed after extensive community consultation. With12% of the area Sanctuary Zone, this park has been acknowledged by all as a sound model for management of a multiple use Marine Park. Throughout that consultation the Minister for Fisheries recognised the need to accommodate all users, especially recreational fishers who were impacted most by the zoning rules.

Unfortunately the current Minister for the Environment appears to be ignoring the needs of the recreational sector in the negotiations on Marine Parks. It is clear from the negotiations on the Batemans Bay Marine Park that interests of our major stakeholder group have been compromised by the Minister for the Environment through the abbreviated consultation period and an unwillingness to engage with recreational fishers. The perception of a “green” bias is undermining public confidence in the Marine Parks process.

In the Marine Parks proclaimed after Solitary Islands up to 80% of productive fishing areas within the parks are, or are proposed, as “no go” zones for recreational anglers and there has been no scientific evidence provided to prove this action will have any conservation value. All fishing methods are prohibited within these Sanctuary Zones. A more reasonable solution would be to permit certain methods of fishing to occur within the zones, such as trolling, or catch and release using lures. This would alleviate the increased fishing pressure that will now be placed on the areas outside the Sanctuary Zones and these fishing methods will have no adverse effect on resident fish populations. Recreational fishers support wise conservation measures and biodiversity objectives, and will accept restrictions based on sound science. Simply locking areas up without scientific justification to meet a green agenda is not acceptable.

May I remind you that more than 1,000,000 people recreationally fish in NSW each year, and conservatively expend more than $500,000,000 directly on their sport. A recent study showed that recreational fishing generated regional economic benefits of more than $36 million in Port Macquarie and $34 million in Narooma and Bermagui alone per year. Restricting access to fishable waters to the degree proposed by the Sanctuary Zones within Marine Parks will lead to many people giving up fishing as a lost cause and will have profound social and economic consequences for regional NSW. The resulting economic impact on the services and industries that support the angling community will be disastrous. This is especially true for small coastal towns where good recreational fishing opportunities are what attracted most people there in the first place and are essential for tourism.

Recreational fishing methods and anglers catches are highly regulated. Bag and size limits are reviewed every 5 years with bag limits lowered at every review and more species subject to minimum legal lengths. Fishing fee money is spent on research into better methods of releasing fish to maximise survival, fish habitat rehabilitation, fish propagation and stocking, promotion and education of the ethics and conservation principles that should apply to their sport. The recreational fishing fraternity is pro-active in preserving the resource their sport and recreation relies on.

Most recreational fishers are passionate about their sport and recreation however they also appear to be less demonstrative in support of their activity. They would rather have a line in the water than putting pen to paper. The simple solution for them is a tick in the right box at the polls. The government that offers them positive, reasonable management will get their vote.

Yours sincerely

Bruce Schumacher


Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing

(Bold type is our emphasis. Ed.)

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