16/09/2009 - 15:24

Moore offers new rec fishing package

16/09/2009 - 15:24

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Minister for fisheries, Norman Moore has announced new recreational fishing regulations introducing a two month season closure, new bag limitations and changes to license fees.

Minister for fisheries, Norman Moore has announced new recreational fishing regulations introducing a two month season closure, new bag limitations and changes to license fees.

The new system will add $1.9 million to annual licensing revenues, totalling $4.9 million for the state.

 

Full announcement below:

 

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore today announced a modified package to manage Western Australia's important recreational fishing sector after extensive talks with interested parties and industry players.

In announcing the new plan, Mr Moore acknowledged the State Government had faced significant challenges in the management of at-risk demersal (bottom-dwelling) species such as dhufish and pink snapper off the West Coast region.

"On taking office, I ordered a comprehensive independent review of the scientific research that showed high-risk demersal species like dhufish and pink snapper were at risk of overfishing," he said.

"That review substantiated Department of Fisheries' findings that stocks of these popular species were being over-fished at unsustainable levels and that the catch had to be reduced by at least 50 per cent.

"I appreciate the original measures to achieve the reduction target was unpopular but I've always said if there's a better way to achieve the sustainability objectives, I'm prepared to listen.

"And that's what I've done: I've listened, I've reviewed the options and today we are at the cross roads.

"We must cut the catch and a decision about protecting our future fish stocks has to be made.

"The commercial sector has already achieved the 50 per cent reduction target for at-risk West Coast Demersal species and now it's time for the recreational anglers to do the same."

The Minister said under the new measures a two-month season closure from October 15 to December 15 would still apply.

Tough new bag limit measures will be introduced to reduce the catch of the vulnerable species, replacing the originally-planned $150 fishing licence for demersal scalefish.

"The Department of Fisheries will undertake ongoing monitoring of the West Coast region fishery to determine if the new measures are effective enough in mitigating the effects of over-fishing in the area," he said.

"I am prepared to take tougher measures down the track if a review of these new regulations finds that our catch reduction targets have not been reached."

"This issue extends beyond any political term; this is about the future of both recreational and commercial fishing in WA and we can't afford to sit on our hands."

Under the new proposals, people fishing from boats will still require an annual $30 recreational boat fishing licence, which will apply State-wide.

"All funds generated from the boat and other recreational fishing licences will be held in the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund and all those monies will funnel back into fisheries research, management and compliance," Mr Moore said.

"I think it's a small price for recreational anglers to pay for the future of sustainable fishing."

Features of the new proposed package include:

-Abolishing the proposed annual $150, fortnightly $60 and daily $20 demersal scalefish licence
-Introducing a mixed daily bag limit of two demersal scalefish, of which only one can be a dhufish
-A daily boat limit of two dhufish will apply, however, there will be a boat limit of six dhufish permitted for charter boats in recognition of the business pressures on charter operators
-A requirement to carry a release weight will apply to all anglers fishing for demersal species, to assist in mitigating barotrauma* and improve survival rates of demersal scalefish returned to the water
-A two-month season closure from October 15 to December 15, inclusive, remains
-The $30 recreational boat fishing licence remains but will only apply to people fishing from registered boats and will be used by researchers to build a database of boat fishers and their catch
-Any non-licensed fishers - not just those under the age of 16 - may fish for free with a licensed fisher provided the provisions of the licensed fisher's daily bag and size limits are honoured-A simple $15 'ticket' system is proposed for charter clients who don't already hold a boat fishing licence
-Standardisation of other fishing licence fees to $40 for marron, lobster, abalone, net fishing and freshwater angling. Licences taken out concurrently are entitled to a 10 per cent discount on the transaction
-All funds raised through the sale of recreational licences will be placed in the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund to exclusively fund activities related to recreational fishing
-A 50 per cent discount for fishing from a registered boat licence will apply for pensioners and people under 16.

The Department of Fisheries aims to complete a review of the current license structure of the Charter Boat Industry by early 2010 which will give greater certainty to these operators and the volume of fish taken by this part of the recreational sector.

The new licensing system is estimated to generate an additional $1.9million to bring the total estimated annual licensing revenue to $4.9million. The current estimated annual revenue from licensing is about $3million made up of $2.7million generated from recreational licences and $300,000 from charter fees.

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