by Dean Logan
The voice of the NSW recreational fishing sector ECOfishers and the Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) met this week in northern NSW to establish a high level NSW Fisheries Task Force to collectively address a range of policy issues and concerns, across the NSW professional and recreational fishing sectors, prior to the 2015 state election.
A school of old wife fish with yellowtail in the background
Dean Logan CEO of the AMA, 'This would be one of the most positive cross-sector initiatives I’ve been involved in over the past 10 years.
'To see professional and recreational fishers sitting down talking about their issues has been extremely refreshing. For too long we have been divided over hearsay, innuendo and poor science, and yet, when we get together we realise that we can deliver far more for our businesses, the fishery and the environment, when we work together.'
Les Palmer, Secretary for ECOfishers, 'I feel that this is a monumental initiative. By putting our issues on the table and by openly discussing and starting to understand them, we’ve realised that we’re all on the same page. Our main objective is to create a solid Fisheries / Environmental Management platform and a unified understanding within the sectors.'
Chris Wallis Chairman of ECOfishers 'We know of no other resource in the world that is shared by amateur and professional operators.
'Whether you do it for a living or do it for fun, fishing is fishing.
'Ecofishers therefore looks forward to being part of a louder voice to declare and fight for our ‘Freedom to Fish’'
The establishment of the Task Force comes at a pivotal time with the shelving of reforms for both the NSW recreational and commercial fishing sectors by the current Government. The Task Force has agreed to move forward as follows:
• The two groups have mapped out an MOU
• Task Force membership consists of current working professional fishermen, fishing club representatives, recreational magazine editors and recreational anglers.
• The ultimate objective of the Task Force over the next 12 weeks is to map out key policies of mutual significance, across the recreational and professional sectors that will form a joint policy submission prior to the 2015 NSW State election.
• The Task Force has already agreed to tackle the following key policies:
o A full independent audit should be conducted of all fees collected from both the recreational and professional fishing sectors in NSW.
o A complete and comprehensive personnel and Departmental restructure of NSW Fisheries be undertaken and implemented as soon as possible.
o The development of a comprehensive policy framework, owned by fishers, that delivers strong environmental, fisheries management and community outcomes.
The Task Force will set a positive pathway forward that will ultimately better advise Government on cross-sector issues. Concerns that cannot be adequately addressed by the Task Force will be left for Government to independently address.
With the AMA’s NSW regional sub-committee framework across all seven fishery regions now firmly in place and with ECOfishers extensive membership base, professionalism and reach across NSW, the Task Force gives NSW fishers a genuine confidence that progress will be made and the passion to fish and necessity to earn an income from fishing, will be not only protected, but respected and enhanced.