VRFish challenges NSW recreational fishing tuna proposals

The southern bluefin tuna spawning stock has plunged to just five per cent
Kerstin Fritsches, file photo: AAP
VRFish, the peak recreational fishing body representing Victorian fishers shares concerns held by our NSW counterparts that proposed regulation changes for recreational southern bluefin tuna (SBT) fishing in NSW are ill conceived.

VRFish General Manager, Mr Dallas D’Silva said 'Given the highly mobile nature of the species, there is a clear need for more consistent regulations across States boundaries. The regulations in place in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania all allow for up to two SBT to be taken by recreational fishers.'

Mr D’Silva added 'SBT stocks are rebuilding and the commercial total allowable catch has recently been increased. If adopted, the changes will have resource sharing implications between recreational and commercial sectors. The proposals are at odds with the intent of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries Resource Sharing signed by all States, Territories and the Commonwealth Governments.'

Overarching management responsibility for this species sits with the Australian Government and VRFish would like to know what, if any, consultation has taken place with them on this issue.

VRFish Chairman, Mr Russell Conway added 'A large number of Victorian based fishers visit the south coast of NSW each year. Victorian game fishers might now be reconsidering the benefits of travelling large distances to NSW to fish for SBT and other game species.'

The potential decline in the number of interstate fishing trips to NSW may have adverse socio-economic impacts for townships such as Eden and Bermagui. The economic contribution of the recreational SBT fishery to South West Victoria was measured at $9 million in 2012.

The proposition that the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the near future and therefore should be listed as ‘endangered’ is simply erroneous. The distribution and range of the species is clearly widespread as noted in the Species Impact Statement. We believe this classification is outdated and it is the basis for the current ill conceived proposals

VRFish feels it is not possible to justify the proposed reduction to NSW recreational SBT catch limits. We therefore do not support the proposed changes and hope the NSW Government will adopt sensible regulations that achieve consistency with southern States.
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