NSW trawling proposal a line call for commercial, recreational fishers

TURBULENCE: Rocky Lagana of the Bermagui Fishermen's Co-op says proposed changes to trawling off the NSW coast are unlikely to have much impact, but recreational fishers tell a different story. Picture: Albert McKnight
TURBULENCE: Rocky Lagana of the Bermagui Fishermen's Co-op says proposed changes to trawling off the NSW coast are unlikely to have much impact, but recreational fishers tell a different story. Picture: Albert McKnight

Recreational fishers are concerned by the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) proposal of state waters becoming Commonwealth managed, however commercial fishers think changes will have minimal impact.

The DPI’s proposal is to transition from the NSW Southern Fish Trawl Fishery into the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, which would “remove unnecessary duplication and administrative burden”.

The Amateur Fishing Association of NSW has sent its concerns to the DPI in a letter, claiming handing fish trawling in inshore waters to the Commonwealth will be “a disaster with long-term negative social, fisheries management and environmental repercussions”.

The public consultation period of the proposal ended on May 9, however the DPI said discussions are continuing with stakeholder groups on the issue.

Secretary of Merimbula Big Game and Lakes Angling Club Chris Young said the number one concern is that the transition will not recognise recreational fishing as a stakeholder. 

Mr Young said amendments would be one solution, including a one mile trawling exclusion zone from the coastline “which will protect our local reefs”.

“The rules that apply offshore are nowhere near applicable inshore,” he said.

Recreational angling is reported to bring $600 million to the Sapphire Coast annually.

“According to figures from the tourist bureau, recreational angling is 42 per cent of the tourism to the Sapphire Coast,” Mr Young said.

“If you start to kick recreational fishing around, you’re kicking the whole economy.”

As controversy escalated over the proposed change, the DPI released a statement to clear up misinformation that outlined the number of commercial fishing trawlers in NSW waters “will not increase inside three nautical miles, all commercial fishers will operate under strict quota restrictions and that the change is about improving licensing arrangements”.

Rocky Lagana of Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-op believes the changes will see minimal affect to local fishing.

“It is not going to change too much of what is happening now.

“The boats that are licensed to work in the state will remain the only ones that can work in the state. If anything it will be a good thing because the catches will come off a quota and it is better managed.

“I believe that NSW doesn’t have the resources to manage it, so it will come under Commonwealth management arrangements – at the end of the day if they do work in the state it will come off a quota,” Mr Lagana said.

  • Have your say: ben.smyth @fairfaxmedia.com.au
This story Trawl changes a line call first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.

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