Contentious Fishy Issues
  |  First Published: October 2010

The snapper have really turned it on through out August with fish between 1-4kg plentiful and widespread.

This season up until the end of July has been average at best with the snapper very hit and miss, but with a bit of cooler current pushing in close, August turned the corner. While the season is late starting it now looks very promising.

What’s not looking as promising is the looming result of the Federal election, which is still in the hands of key independents. Let’s hope they side with the Coalition to ensure anglers of Australia have continued access to our waters.

On a local issue I read a Sunfish document that recommends excluding charter fishing vessels from accessing artificial reefs in the Moreton Bay Marine Park. For the record charter fishing vessels are classed by the Government as “platforms for recreational fishers”, so according to Sunfish a rec angler on a charter vessel is different than a rec angler on his/her own boat. This doesn’t gel with me.

While I probably wouldn’t fish an artificial reef anyway as it would be so busy, this wreaks of discrimination.

I also think the so-called licence buy pack for Moreton Bay Marine Park was an absolute joke.

Firstly a high percentage of professional fishers who did put their hand up for licence buy-back never pulled a net or a crab pot out of the water, they just continued to work on other licences. Who can blame them – if an irresponsible Government department is handing out money and not enforcing industry exit, we would probably all do the same thing. All the licence buy-back scheme and the green zones have done is concentrate the effort of all anglers – pro and rec – into small areas.

On the other hand charter operators were not considered for the buy back because we are not considered to be commercial operators.

Throughout the snapper review, we have all been told how our fish stock are ‘under threat’, the Marine Queensland Charter Division has called for no more charter permits to be issued by the Government.

This is to avoid putting more pressure on our fishery and also to protect individuals from investing in an industry, that in my opinion has no future with the way our Government is heading.

But the Government has continued to issue charter permits, yet they bought back pro licences. Again, do they really know what they are doing? I certainly don’t think so.

First and foremost, we as angler want stocks of our iconic snapper to be sustainable so future generations can catch and dine on these beautiful fish. With a little tweaking our current regulations should basically be able to stay, not the preferred option of our Fisheries Department of four months of closures each year.

With a reduced catch effort by commercial (pro) and charter sectors and possibly an upper limit of say only two fish over 60cm in your bag limit of five fish over 35cm, I think snapper numbers could be sustained.

There has been a lot of blame tossed around at the different sectors recently, but now more than ever commercial, charter and recreational fishing bodies have to unite and put out the same message. Together we are stronger, rather than each sector trying to lobby alone.

Fellow QFM contributor and charter operator Keith Hall has also had a fair bit of sniping aimed in his direction recently. I think we need more people like Keith out there, prepared to get off their arses and fight for the rights of anglers.

Several years back, Keith and I lobbied hard to create a charter division and Marine Queensland took us on board. With the help of CEO Don Jones and his very capable staff we now fight for the rights of our charter division members as well as the rights of all anglers and boaties for continued access to our waterways and sensible and sustainable bag limits.

Marine Queensland was instrumental in having the size limit of 75cm for amberjack and Samson fish reduced to 50cm and also mahi mahi from 60cm back to 50cm. There are also many other issues that Marine Queensland are currently lobbying hard for.

Another major problem with the pending snapper review is that funding is down for fisheries agencies, which probably means Fisheries will take the cheapest option, which would be the lengthy closures.

Now is certainly the time for all sectors of our fishing industry to work together so that we can have continued access to the fishery.

Until next month, enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you would like to join me on a charter (max 5 persons) give me a call on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750 or visit www.outlawcharters.com.au.

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