Commercial Fishing Reform Program

Ecofishers attended a meeting last night 26.05.2014 at DPI Fisheries offices at Coffs Harbour for a discussion regarding the Commercial Fishing Reform Program. This meeting was also attended by representatives of half a dozen local fishing clubs, two Fisheries officers and Jim Harnwell. A similar meeting was held the night before in Nowra.

At this meeting we got to see the original document at the centre of this program, all 200 pages of it!
The public consultation and submission process has only four more days to closing on 30th May 2014.

Our impression is that commercial fisheries management is a mess and in need of reform but this process seems to be in an unnecessary rush.
This package took many months and tens of thousands of dollars to produce and when released to the commercial fishers, allowed them one month to respond. This time frame has since been extended by 11 days. Whilst the 1200 commercial fishers have had 6 weeks to analyse and respond, most of the 1,000,000 recreational fishers and the general public don’t even know this is happening.

Presentations to a dozen fishing clubs over two days does not represent consultation with the rec fishers of the State of NSW.
This commercial fishing reform program has many far reaching effects into most areas of our society including recreational fishing, outboard industry, boating, local government, tourism, small business and the seafood consumers and yet there has been no socio-economic impact statement done.

The original concerns of Ecofishers related to the netting of rivers, lakes and estuaries but that is only one of nine different groups involved in commercial fishing and all nine have huge impacts on recreational fishing if the proposals outlined here were introduced.
It is our belief that the consultation should take at least 12 months with a truly independent review process (not stacked by Fisheries) and presentations and meetings for all stakeholders and interest groups held at every major centre in every fishing zone in the State.
Too much is at stake with commercial and recreational fishing representing multi billion dollar industries to the State.
NSW currently imports 83% of it’s seafood and this reform does nothing to change that.

The only thing that will change is some of the players and a few minor rule changes but the knock on effects to commercial and recreational fishing, the cost of seafood to the consumer and the ongoing damage to the environment could be devastating.

In what may appear a contradiction, Ecofishers voted along with all others present at the meeting last night to seek a further extension to the submission closing date but at the same time we have released an online petition calling on the Minister to scrap this program and start again.
The link for the petition is here
Chris Wallis
Chairman Ecofishers

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