Since the last update the hot topics have been the Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network and the Queensland Netting buyback.
AUSTRALIAN RECREATIONAL FISHING FOUNDATION
This is the new national body of which Sunfish Queensland is a founding member. The Foundation’s goals relate to recreational fishing in the national arena. This generally breaks down to access, education and promotion.
These are the objects of the Foundation.
· To educate and promote the benefits of sustainable recreational fishing to the public to ensure the maintenance and growth of fish population throughout Australia.
· To educate the fishing community on the ethical, environmental and safety aspects of sustainable recreational fishing.
· To raise awareness of and promote, the health benefits of sustainable recreational fishing.
· To educate the public on how to protect, preserve and care for the environment, whilst recreationally fishing, including land care, flora and fauna and marine conservation.
· To promote the accessibility of sustainable recreational fishing activities to persons of all age groups, genders and ethnic origins.
The Foundation has been very active around the country, although most of the work was of necessity in Canberra. We have engaged with Tony Burke and his department at every opportunity but as yet with very little effect.
Concurrently we have been having discussions with the current federal opposition.
It’s vitally important that we have a good understanding of what the possibilities are to modify the Marine Reserves Network after they have been declared. Once this has been done we will need to endeavour to get some written commitments from the current opposition of what they will do should they be governing after the next election.
The amount of media and community comment since the most recent announcements only clarify what we already know; despite ministerial comment to the contrary these national exclusion zones will severely impact the recreational sector now and into the future.
Please follow and support our national campaign, “DON’T LOCK US OUT”.
COMMONWEALTH MARINE RESERVE NETWORK
From day one we have been asking for a publicly released and scrutinized risk assessment analysis to show what impact the recreational sector is having in the areas that we have been summarily excluded from. The work has been done in several workshops that were held in about 2009 that had all stakeholder groups including government and conservation represented. The outcome was that recreational fishing was identified as having little to no impact on any of the identified priorities.
Recreational fishers recognize and support the protection of vulnerable species and habitats that are either fragile and/or necessary for the proliferation of aquatic species. To that end we promote the protection and management of current Fish Habitat Areas as well as canvas for others. We cannot, however, condone green exclusion zones that lock us out for no reason other than allowing politicians to beat their chest in the overseas arena and proclaim they have the biggest, the most or the jewel in the crown.
Some suspicious minds may also perceive that the Coral Sea announcement was timed to divert attention away from the anticipated poor report from UNESCO. Both recreational fishers and the community would be far more supportive of real action taken to protect against real threats. Threats that are real and imminent, threats to our precious water quality, aquatic life and Queensland lifestyle and heritage – port development, dredge spoil dumping and the release of catastrophic pollutants from mining operations into our waterways.
QUEENSLAND NETTING BUYBACK
One of the commitments for the new Queensland Government in their 100 day program is the $9million inshore netting buyback.
The invitations have finally gone out for the stakeholder working group; David Bateman will be representing Sunfish Qld. He has considerable experience and a good working knowledge and history base with respect to commercial netting in Queensland.
Quotes from Policy Factsheet – Marine Resources:
The buyback will target large mesh and gill nets with a special focus on important recreational fishing locations and areas of high conservation value.
There will be increased recreational fishing opportunities and a more profitable and sustainable commercial fishing industry.
The LNP understands fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in Queensland, with an estimated 750,000 recreational fishers in this State. Fishing is very much a part of life in Queensland.
Sunfish Queensland sent this initial proposal for consideration to the Minister.
Effort reduction should be achieved in two stages –
1. Voluntary/compulsory buy back of endorsements and primary vessel licences
2. Capping of future effort within the fishery
Over previous “buy outs” obviously little effort reduction has been achieved as non-producing endorsements (latent) or worked endorsements were “paid for” and cashed up operators just purchased others. They then continued fishing and there was little actual “real effort” removed.
Primary vessel licenses in most cases were left intact and available for existing “group” endorsements to be “split” and attached to the primary vessel or alternative endorsements/quota were purchased and attached to the primary.
Commercial fishers were not bound to retire from fishing for any period after being compensated.
Using the Rural Adjustment Process has NOT worked in the best interests of public expenditure. The failings of the scheme were forecast by both the commercial sector and Sunfish but ignored.
In all future “compensation” deliberations a representative from the QSIA/Commercial sector and a representative from SUNFISH to be included on the review panel to ensure accuracy of information and clarity of process.
Any effort reduction must include a significant netting component.
Suggested alternative process-
· Monies from the election promises be made available immediately - $ 9m
Voluntary surrender -
· Buyback be set at the level of income from the endorsement over past year or average of last 3 years – tax value proof needed.
· Only full licence packages to be “bought out” (primary vessels with all endorsements).
· unused endorsements at base price of $5,000 regardless of use
· Primary vessel at a maximum fixed price of $15,000
· Examples – N at $5k, C at $10k, L at $2k, primary vessel = $17k + $15k = $32k
N at $2k, C at $20, Lat $5k, primary vessel = $27k + $15k = $42k
· A commercial fisher who has been bought out must not enter any fishery as a Master or assistant for a period of 3 years- signed contract needed.
Compulsory acquisition of endorsements/license packages –
· Same basis but subject to negotiation in special circumstances where an area is reallocated for alternative use. E.g. Community benefit area, Marine park declaration or closure as at Gladstone.
· The area where the “endorsements “ are removed to be closed to all commercial fishing
This will come into force at the completion of stage 1 when either the $9m has been spent or the time to apply for the “buy out/compensation” has expired.
The purpose is to cap the current catch level and introduce a “buy out reduction system” of existing endorsements by the commercial industry not the Government.
It will also give remaining operators more surety as well as a more viable economic industry.
Reducing the number of commercial fishers will also reduce conflict – internally and externally.
Suggested process –
· Catch levels be capped for each endorsement at the level of catch history for the past 12 months or average over the past 3 years. E.g. N- 5 tonnes, C-5 tonnes, L-2 tonnes.
· Any commercial fisher wanting to increase his catch can purchase another endorsement and have the catch level increased on his existing one.
· Purchased endorsement to be surrendered.
· The practice of allowing leasing of any of these endorsements to be discontinued.
· Any commercial fisher wanting to purchase an operation involving C, N or L endorsements must prove they haveat least 1 years’ experience in the particular fishery.
The advantages of this system is –
1. Commercial fishers are not disadvantaged as their current catch level is historically recognised.
2. The total catch in each fishery is capped.
3. To allow a fisher more scope to expand his operation he can buy additional catch by purchasing an existing endorsement with catch history.
4. Endorsements without catch history will be worth nothing and probably be surrendered.
There have been many recommendations submitted to the Minister and his departmental representatives as to how the process should occur. Minister McVeigh has made himself available to hear the positions submitted by all sectors.
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