Protect Your Patch

On the weekend 17th/18th May Ecofishers was going to launch a petition calling on the government to phase in the banning of netting of all rivers, lakes and estuaries in NSW. We have worked for months tinkering with the exact wording of the petition to create a balance between what we wanted as rec fishers, what we believe the ecosystem needed and the livelihood of the long term commercial fishermen working these rivers and estuaries.

To gain any traction this petition would require at least 10,000 signatures to ensure it was debated in Parliament which we believe we would achieve in a breeze.

We have decided not to go ahead with this petition, at least for now and we owe it to our members and supporters who have been pushing for this for some time to try to explain why.

We have good reason to believe that no matter what level of support this petition would get it would eventually finish up in the waste paper bin. This action would also pick a fight with people in the commercial fishing industry when generally speaking we have no problems with the full time operators in the industry.

The commercial netting of rivers has it’s many problems but the greater problem is the way the fisheries of NSW are being managed.

The current commercial fisheries reform program is a dog’s breakfast and should be abandoned immediately and the whole process taken back to square one and discussed with ALL stakeholders, commercial and recreational.

The problem for rec fishers is under the current proposals not only would netting not be reduced but the potential is there to have many estuaries previously exempt from netting being opened up. This would be devastating to fish stocks, habitat and local economies.

The commercial shareholding setup is such that existing licenced fishers will have to spend huge amounts of money buying shares from people who may not have even been using their shareholding, just to maintain the level of business they already have.

This is totally unfair to the people who have worked in the fishing industry for decades and is open to corruption when considering the tender process will be secret.


The rec fishers are not happy because of the potential for increased pressure on already fragile ecosystems. All decisions relating to fishing seem to be biased toward commercial

fishing but at least for now the profits mostly remain in Australia. The potential is there for these shareholdings to fall into the hands of overseas interests to the extent that one huge foreign company could eventually take ownership of all the shares associated to NSW fisheries. This could result in rec fishers either being crowded out or locked out of our own waters.

The commercial fishers are not happy because their industry is being overhauled with no tangible benefit to anyone except the opportunists who have dabbled in trading shareholdings.

What now….????

The very first move should be to abandon this reform program immediately.

The point must be made to the government that the fish in NSW waters are not theirs to sell…….. All NSW residents have a common law right to those fish.

The answer……..

The Ecofishers Agenda for Sustainable Fishing is that NSW government should take ownership of the commercial harvesting rights of NSW fisheries and contract those rights on a lease basis to suitably qualified fishermen with preference given to existing long term full time fishermen.

These contracts should be non transferable and zone specific to a single zone eg. The Macleay River OR the Hawkesbury River OR Lake Illawarra etc but not multiple zones.

There should be a code of conduct and regulations that if broken even once will result in automatic cancellation of that contract.

Obviously there are a lot more details to consider and this will always be a work in progress but by now, you the reader, are starting to form an opinion that you either agree in principle with this or not……

Either way we want to hear from you.

In the meantime what do we do as ordinary recreational fishers?


Recreational fishers have long called for a united approach.

This does not necessarily mean we all have to be members of a single group.

It does mean we as individuals have to act in unison.

It means we all have to get off our collective arses and write to or call on our local member of Parliament and air our grievances.

It is simple really and only takes a few minutes of your time.


Write a letter to your local member, that is the person who wants your vote next March, with a carbon copy to the Minister and tell them you want this commercial fishing reform program scrapped plus any other grievances you have regarding rec fishing. It doesn’t matter if it is proper English or if the punctuation is correct…….. JUST DO IT!

Get your message across.

Until recreational fishers and seafood consumers stop relying on representative bodies to do all the work for them and start putting in some individual effort we are never going to have unity.

UNITY is not a label, it is an action.

There is no need to try to save the whole of NSW yourself. Just concentrate on your local area.

The people of Richmond River, Nambucca, Macleay, Lake Illawarra, Shoalhaven have already started.

If everyone who receives this letter convinces just two friends or relatives to take action and those two do the same and those two do the same………. This only has to cascade down five levels of the pyramid and we have over 10,000 rec fishers UNITED.

Attached is a list of all areas in NSW threatened with INCREASED netting activity.

So sit down…… grab a piece of paper and a pen and……..


Chris Wallis

Chairman Ecofishers

20th May 2014

Netting Areas

  1. Cudgen Creek and Mooball Creek
  2. Evans River
  3. Jerusalem Creek
  4. Clarence River
  5. Boambee Creek
  6. Bonville Creek (and Pine Creek)
  7. Nambucca River Entrance
  8. Nambulla River and Warrell Creek
  9. Warrell Creek
  10. Macleay River
  11. Belmore river
  12. Port Stephens (three areas)
  13. Tuggerah Lakes (two areas)
  14. Hawkesbury River (Patonga Creek)
  15. Pittwater
  16. Lake Illawarra
  17. Shoalhaven River
  18. Crookhaven River
  19. Moruya River (two areas)
  20. Wallaga Lake (three areas)
  21. Coila Lake
  22. Wapengo Lake
  23. Wallagoot Lake (two areas)
  24. Merimbula Lake
  25. Bournda Lagoon


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