There has been a lot of lively discussion in the recreational fishing community about the new Recreational Fishing Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, however, there have also been some unfounded and misleading claims made.
If you want to know the facts about where RecFish SA stands in relation to securing adequate funding for recreational fishing in SA and the issue of a Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL), then this page is for you!
Why is there a discussion about resourcing/funding for recreational fishing in SA?
Fishing is our passion, our sport our hobby; it puts top quality SA seafood on the table and as a sport and recreation it is great for our health and well being. So it is important then, to engage with the issues around the future management and level of investment going into recreational fishing. Participation in recreational fishing in SA was reported to have declined by over 30% from 2001-2008. RecFish SA, through our networks, have identified that poor access to fishing spots, declining catches, a lack of new fishing opportunities and insufficient investment in the sector are some of the reasons for this.
What do investments and enhanced opportunities have to do with recreational fishing?
Some great things are happening in the States around us and it is impossible not to notice! In New South Wales, Victoria and West Australia, investment in projects to make recreational fishing experiences better and more accessible to the average fisher, have become commonplace and are expected by their recreational fishing communities.
These projects include:
- Delivering brand new fishing spots, through the creation of Artificial Habitat (New Reefs and reef networks, to support new marine life)
- Stocking both Freshwater and Estuary systems with desirable species, such as Cod, Golden Perch, Trout, Bream, Mulloway & Prawns
- Allowing and enhancing Fishing in State owned impoundments and Reservoirs
- Building New fishing platforms to create/restore access to fishing areas (some of these also have new habitat, like reef balls installed within casting range)
- Better facilities, like fishing jetties, capping rock walls to make them accessible, fish cleaning tables, lights and toilets in fishing spots
- Dedicated research designed specifically to better understand and improve recreational fishing
- Increased compliance efforts with more fisheries officers on the beat to ensure that all fishers are doing the right thing
- Engaging with fishers and communities to identify priority areas for investment and offering grants to fund projects to benefit recreational fishing
Is the kind of investment seen interstate occurring here in SA and if not, should it be?
RecFish SA believe that South Australian fishers have been missing out for long enough and that we deserve the same benefits and level of recognition of our fun and healthy family activity, as is enjoyed interstate!
While there has been a welcome increase in funding for recreational fishing initiatives in the last state budget, even when our smaller population is taken into account, it does not match the level of investment seen interstate.
What are RecFish SA doing about this – and can’t the Government just fund these initiatives?
Item 1 in the new SA Recreational Fishing Strategic Plan is to make the case to government (and opposition) and ask them directly and adequately fund recreational fishing so that South Aussie fishers can enjoy the same benefits as seen interstate. This was put to all parties before the State election in 2014. It was envisaged that at least 3.4 Million dollars per year would be required.
In response to this, the Government committed a one-off, additional 3.2 Million Dollars, over the next 3 years. This is a positive for recreational fishing; $600K will go towards a new artificial reef, $400K to fishing in reservoirs and there will also be $700K per year, for three years, to fund a Recreational Fishing Grants scheme to fund small projects like fish stocking and fishing platforms.
There appears to be a significant difference between $3.4M per year and the $1.1M currently budgeted.. and is it only a one off?
Yes, that is right, there is no long term solution in place to fund a better future for recreational fishing in South Australia. Without this, it will not be possible for South Aussie fishers to enjoy the benefits which have now become routine in other states.
Would RecFish SA support a Recreational Fishing Licence so that SA fishers can enjoy the benefits seen interstate and if so, under what conditions?
Yes, RecFish SA believe that the benefits enjoyed by fishers in other states are deserved by fishers in SA too! There is so much that can be done to improve fishing in SA, but it relies on a having long term, reliable funding source.
It is not a case of “any RFL model will do” though, and RecFish SA have key criteria which we have established by working with our membership, networks and the recreational fishing community.
RecFish SA would support an RFL only if:
- 100% of Licence Revenue must directly go back into Recreational Fishing. Funds should be held in Trust and this quarantining of revenue must be legislated (required by law).
- Children should not require a licence to go fishing.
- People who are financially disadvantaged receive concession or be exempt.
- Recreational Fishers must have formal input into how the money is spent.
Is this just a way to fund RecFish SA, and would RecFish SA like to “control” or “manage” the funds?
No. As above, all funds should be held in Trust. The funds should not be controlled by any particular group. To carry out it’s work, RecFish SA would have to apply to the trust for funding, just like any other applicant.
Do other states have an RFL?
Yes, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia all have RFLs which cover freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Tasmania has a licence for Freshwater fishing, abalone and Lobster, while Queensland has fishing licences for freshwater impoundment fishing.
How much is it likely to cost?
While it is important to remember that at this stage, an RFL for SA is just up for discussion and nothing is set in stone, if we look to interstate examples we can see that:
- In Victoria a licence costs $30 per year
- In NSW a licence costs $35 per year.
RecFish SA do not think there is any reason that SA fishers should pay any more than interstate fishers do.
What if I only fish occasionally?
Victoria and NSW have 3 day and 1 month licences which cost around $6 and $14 respectively. This seems to be a sensible, flexible and affordable approach.
What if I am going fishing at short notice?
Interstate, licences are available to purchase online, 24 hours a day. These days you can make the purchase on your phone and get an e-receipt. Of course you can also call into a tackle shop to grab a licence and enjoy the bonus of some great local advice!
Is a Fishing Licence a sure thing in SA and what is the next step?
No. Current government policy is to not have a recreational fishing licence. RecFish SA (Through an FRDC grant) commissioned a survey of SA recreational fishers and have been studying the success of licensing interstate. The survey was conducted professionally by the University of Canberra and was sent randomly to 5000 homes across SA. It was also offered online to be completed anyone interested to do so. Results are expected in April 2015.
RecFish SA will continue to engage with the recreational fishing community, including through more surveys on where fishers would like to see money spent. We will work with fishers and the government, on achieving appropriate arrangements to fund enhancements and ongoing investment into recreational fishing in South Australia
How can I get involved with RecFish SA?
A key commitment established in the Strategic Plan is do to a better job of engaging with recreational fishers.
Keep any eye on our webpage or follow our facebook page for news and upcoming opportunities for input. We consult the angling public on a range of key issues and invite feedback. Some recent examples are the Snook Size Limit and the Snapper Spatial Closures.
We are also in the process of updating our membership categories to include affordable individual membership (with a vote for the Board) and FREE Affiliate membership with a Monthly news email and inclusion in surveys on important issues. This is expected in March 2015, stay tuned!
Where can I see examples of recreational fishing licences making a difference to fishers?
Very exciting projects are funded by the proceeds of RFL’s interstate. Check out this page to see some of the amazing types of projects we could have if recreational fishing in SA has similar funds available to invest in the future…
Images from DPI NSW, DEPI Vic, Recfishwest