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||Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.)
Club's Submission to the Fisheries Minister on West Coast Review.
12 June 2001
Hon Kim Chance, Minister for Fisheries,
11th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, West Perth W.A. 6005
West Coast Recreational Fisheries Reviews.
The members of the Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.) would like to express our concerns at proposals reportedly presented to you from the Working Party on "A Quality Future for Recreational Fishing on the West Coast."
We have three main concerns with reports on the West Coast proposals.
1. We are unable to find out what has now been proposed in response to the comments that were submitted on the original proposals. We supported many of the original proposals, but we did not support some for various reasons, including that some proposals would not actually achieve what the review stated that it was trying to achieve. All this is detailed in the submission we made. I have attached a copy of that submission for your information. To date, we have not received even an acknowledgement of our submission.
We are concerned that the process does not appear to allow the residents of W.A. to know what is proposed before it might be applied. In keeping with the Labor Government's Fisheries policy, published on your web site, which states "The main thrust of Labor's approach will be to improve the links between Government and relevant stakeholders and to underscore a representative and consultative approach", we believe that the proposals should be published before a decision is made. In that way, the residents of W.A. can see how the community commented on the proposals and how these comments have been considered in the revised proposals, and also if or how the changes are supported by research or other data.
2. Media reports indicate that the proposals submitted to you include significant reductions to some recreational bag limits, and that some of these reductions are the larger of the options suggested in the original proposals.
While we support some reductions, we believe that these large reductions are not required to maintain stocks of some recreational fish species in the West Coast region. In the last twelve months, herring have been prolific over and outside their usual ranges, we have had the best west coast tailor season for some years, the best south and lower west coast salmon season for some years, and bream, pink snapper and mulloway are widespread, and with widespread evidence of many juvenile fish.
We accept that seasonal variations do occur, but we believe that these results show that current management practices are working, and that only small changes are needed, if any, for some species. We refer to the part of Labor's Fisheries Policy stating "with the necessary improvements in research to ensure that management and conservation decisions are based upon the best available information".
3. We are concerned at the possibility that reduced recreational fishing catches resulting from reduced bag limits may simply be taken up as increased professional catches, unless professional catches are also managed to prevent this increase. As well, there are still reports of wastage of large amounts of important recreational fish by professional fisherman when they netted amounts considerably in excess of what could be handled by processors.
We note Labor's Fisheries Policy on Integrated Fisheries Management and achieving a process of declaration of an identified share of the total allowable catch for each sector within a specific fishery. We do not know if the proposals covering professional catches of important recreational fish which were in the original West Coast document are still included in the proposals submitted to you, that is we do not know that the catch reductions are shared and equitable. After all, if the fish stocks are the concern, then the total catch must be managed. In particular, professional catches of breeding stock must be managed for sustainability, as is done in the professional rock lobster fishery, and this needs to be extended to important recreational fish, as covered in our submission.
Some proposed reductions in recreational bag limits at this time would seem to be pre-empting the outcomes of Labor's commitment to "establish a transparent and independent process for the setting of resource allocations between sectors and the conservation of the State's fisheries, in full consultation with all stakeholders, including representatives of the general community."
Please be assured that the members of this Club fully support and actively practise conservation and responsible fishing, and will not argue with any changes which are necessary for the conservation of fish stocks. But we ask that the process of deciding those changes be open and equitable and supported by data which is appropriate and relevent to the proposed changes.
We look forward to a release of the proposals for further public comment, or a statement that these proposals will not proceed until other commitments made in Labor's Fisheries Policy have been met.
Read the reply from the Minister for Fisheries
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