Jump to content

NSW to allow Unrestricted Commercial Flathead Fishing!

Recommended Posts

NSW to allow unrestricted commercial flathead fishing

21 May 2013. For immediate release.

On May 3, in what has been described by Commonwealth fishing operators as “..a shock move..”, the NSW Minister for Primary Industries the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson signed a notice removing commercial catch limits for many fish species in NSW, including flathead. This means that state licensed vessels can now take unlimited amounts of flathead, while the same fish are regulated and catch limits imposed on NSW recreational anglers along the coastline of NSW, and that limits remain on Commonwealth commercial fishers in waters outside 3 miles off the NSW coastline.

It also means that NSW commercial fishing licenses that are currently not used may now become active, as unscrupulous operators seek to maximise the loophole created by these legislative changes.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s CEO, Mr Simon Boag explained, “It amazes us that NSW would allow their commercial fishers to take unlimited catches of many species including flathead. To this point Australian fisheries have been the best managed in the world but doing this jeopardises their sustainability in NSW particularly.”

Mr Boag added that, “We’re disappointed that NSW did not talk about this with the Commonwealth fisheries management authority and, worse, we understand that NSW officials may have misled Commonwealth officials and told them that the NSW government would not introduce unrestricted catches. No agencies from NSW spoke with Commonwealth fishers or SETFIA.”.

Commonwealth quotas are an asset that sits in the balance sheet of many companies, and are a strong and valuable property right in well managed fisheries. Mr Boag said that, “Strong property rights promote environmental stewardship. In this case, Commonwealth quota owners are motivated to look after flathead because they rely on it for a living, and want to ensure the value of their quota remains strong, by having a lasting, sustainable, healthy fishery. By allowing uncontrolled catches of flathead by State vessels, NSW has significantly reduced the value of this quota, and put at risk the sustainability of the fishery at the same time”.

“This action is bewildering to us, given NSW have suggested that the bag limit on flathead for NSW recreational fishermen should be halved - in the very same waters that they are now allowing uncontrolled commercial fishing access”.

SETFIA calls on Minister Hodgkinson to restore the trip limits on NSW vessels, and ensure that fisheries for flathead remain sustainable. It also calls on the Federal Minister for Fisheries, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, to protect the Commonwealth industry’s property rights and sustainability of the fish stocks, by mediating a resource sharing arrangement between NSW and the Commonwealth.

For more information contact Mr Simon Boag 0428-141591,

Surely this can't be sustainable in the long run?

Does anyone know what the previous limits were?

You can't rely on EVERYONE doing the right thing all the time (ie policing it themselves) - there will be rogues out there who will rape the fishery for short term gain!


Edited by Roberta
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is ridiculous, there has to be something that can be done, who does she think she is imposing no limits on commercial fishing which has a significantly larger impact on fish stocks and yet reduce recreational limits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this Roberta, what a slap in the face!

This just aired on 7:30 report last week.


These proposed changes are a high risk move now that there is reduced number of scientists looking at NSW fish stocks. Little to no research being performed on fish stock status can easily lead to fish stocks being overfished. All this without consultation with the AFMA or SETFIA!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't actually find any Govt sources that confirm the statement made by Simon Boag - in fact, Katrina Hodgkinson's Dept has said that that wasn't their intention in making any changes ....... it is all on Simon Boag's say so ....... I have a well connected buddy making some enquiries tho! ;)

Check out this ABC blog where Simon Boag on a radio interview


Preceding the interview - The ABC received the following statement from the Director of Commercial Fisheries, Andrew Goulstone:

"There is absolutely no intention to undermine Commonwealth fishing laws. Fisheries NSW is already in discussions with industry and is very clear about their concerns. Fisheries NSW will review the risks raised by industry in conjunction with the Commonwealth. We will respond as appropriate to ensure unacceptable risks, e.g. overfishing or undermining value of entitlements, do not occur."


I think this is aimed more at the closure of the Cronulla Fisheries Centre & lack of future information re fish stocks ...... a recipe for disaster anyway!

I really can't see that the resumption of Recreational Fishos being able to fish FROM SHORE in most of the current Marine Parks (except Jervis Bay) having any REAL impact on fish numbers ........ I can't see thousands of fishos suddenly traipsing KMs into some of these areas just to fish the 'ex excluded marine park' ..... I know that I haven't ....... yet!! What about you??

Edited by Roberta
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BREAKING NEWS ..... Ministerial Backflip on decision!


ANGRY recreational fishers have used social media to force NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to backflip on a decision to allow the commercial sector to net “unrestricted” numbers of flathead and other species.

On May 3 the Minister signed off on a notice removing commercial catch limits on flathead and other species including morwong and perch. Details of this move remained hidden until late yesterday afternoon when the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) issued a press release outlining the minister’s plans. Describing it as a “shock move”, SETFIA said allowing NSW licensed vessels to take unlimited amounts of flathead was “unsustainable”.

SETFIA CEO Simon Boag said catch limits for flathead are imposed on NSW recreational anglers and that limits remain on Commonwealth commercial fishers in waters outside three miles off the NSW coastline.

“It amazes us that NSW would allow their commercial fishers to take unlimited catches of many species including flathead. To this point Australian fisheries have been the best managed in the world but doing this jeopardises their sustainability in NSW particularly,” Boag said.

Along with various angling interest groups, Fisho immediately published the SETFIA press release on our Facebook page, provoking an instant and angry response from the angling community. Fisho then contacted Minister Hodgkinson’s media department, seeking urgent clarification and comment on the Minister’s decision to seemingly throw fisheries management protocols out the window and allow potential commercial decimation of important recreational species. Throughout the afternoon and evening social media channels ran hot with outraged comments from anglers protesting the minister’s decision. At 7.44pm last night Fisho received a press statement from the minister saying that she had “listened to stakeholder concerns” and will now “not make changes to trip limits for commercial fishers”.

“In the interests of working collaboratively with all our stakeholders and ensuring the risks and impacts of changes to fishing limits have been fully identified and assessed, I have asked the Department to reinstate the pre-existing limits and to now work closely with the Commonwealth and stakeholders to develop effective, efficient cross-jurisdictional management arrangements,” Minister Hodgkinson said.

While Fisho welcomes this backflip, and applauds the Minister for recognising that she had made a serious error in judgement, significant questions now need to be asked about how and why this policy bungle eventuated.
According to the SETFIA press release, the Minister made her decision to allow unlimited commercial take for flathead and other species on May 3. Yet it appears no one in the angling community had any idea this policy had been enacted. What discussions and consultation did the Minister have with the recreational sector on this important matter?
For instance, did the minister consult with ACORF on this issue? If so, what was ACORF’s recommendation? If not, why not? Surely the minister recognises that flathead are a key recreational species?

In light of that, it defies political reason for the Minister to even consider allowing the commercial sector to take “unrestricted” catches of flathead (and other species) in light of the discussion paper recently released by NSW Fisheries which proposes draconian recreational bag limit reductions. Does the Minister not see the hypocrisy of allowing netters to take whatever they like while imposing tough limits on mums, dads and kids who enjoy sustainable rec fishing?

Perhaps the most important question that needs to be asked is why the Minister would sign off on such a contentious policy? Surely the words “unrestricted catch” must have run some alarm bells with the Minister and her advisors? If these alarm bells didn’t ring, then you have no option but to question the Minister’s ability to fully understand the complexities of her portfolio. Surely the Minister would have realised this move presented serious sustainability issues for the fishery, not to mention inciting significant backlash from other stakeholders, including the million-strong recreational fishing community in NSW.

Questions also need to be asked about what influence the state’s commercial sector has with the Minister. Considering the fallout of this now scrapped policy, and giving the Minister and her team at least a modicum of political nous, the sway the commercials hold must be immense. Fisho finds it hard to believe that the minister didn’t realise she’d cop flak from instigating this policy. To actually attempt to make it happen while presumably realising it would cause controversy raises significant concerns about the minister’s relationship with the NSW commercial fishing sector.
Bear in mind that this decision was also opposed as “unsustainable” by commercial operators working federal waters.

Fisho – along no doubt with many hundreds of thousands of NSW anglers – is disappointed with Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson. This ludicrous flathead catch screw-up is the latest in a long line of policy gaffes which include allowing the resumption of commercial netting for salmon and closing the NSW fisheries offices at Cronulla.

The Minister and her Government have enacted some good policies in the past year or so – supporting Robert Brown from the Shooters & Fishers Party in reviewing the flawed state marine parks system is a prime example of the sort of proactive decision making NSW anglers wholeheartedly support. But this unrestricted flathead catch flip flop makes it hard to put much faith in the minister’s ability to look after things properly. To be fair she has an onerous portfolio with numerous responsibilities. Hers would not be an easy job. And it’s not difficult to understand that things like this fall through the cracks. But that’s just not good enough. NSW fishos expect – and demand – better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It appears Katrina Hodgkinson may have a bit too much on her plate being the MP responsible for Primary Industry and Small Businesses. The quota change does not sound intentional, more of a loop hole. If we had a minister dedicated to just primary industry or fisheries this could have been avoided.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

In the early 1900's, tiger flatties were very prolific and it was just no limit to what numbers could be caught. As a result, the flatties were nearly wiped out.

We do not want to go down that path again. The tigers can still be caught down the south coast, but there are not a lot off Sydney.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...