$475,000 will be distributed to fish stocking groups to purchase fingerlings in 2006. This allocation of funds is derived from the proceeds of the Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) purchased by anglers who fish in stocked impoundments. It isn’t a grant from the State Government as the politicians would like you to believe. I’m sure that there will be media releases from the Government implying that this contribution towards fish stocking is a government initiative but this allocation has come from the freshwater anglers themselves and not from the government’s generosity.
Some 27 impoundments across the state will benefit from this allocation. The funding break up is derived from an allocation formula of which 50% is angler preference and 50% is the surface area of the impoundment (capped at 4000ha). There were no changes to the formula that was used last year. Even though the total amount of $475,000 is similar to last year, there has been a marked variance in some of the distributions to certain impoundments. This has been caused by differing angler preferences indicated when anglers purchase their SIP permit. The largest increase was 32% and the largest decrease was 56%.
In total, some 35,000 permits are issued to anglers each year. 66% of these are weekly ($7), 27% are yearly ($35), and 7% are yearly pensioner discounted ($31.50). 90% of permits are issued by small business at no cost to the scheme. These businesses across the state need to be congratulated for their contribution to fish stocking in their local areas. The remaining 10% are sold by online through Fisheries.
There are currently 29 dams registered to receive allocations from the SIP scheme. From 1 July 2006, Storm King Dam at Stanthorpe will be added. So if you don’t have a current SIP permit and want to fish Storm King, a permit will be required from July this year.
For anglers who may only be beginning to fish in freshwater, and particularly stocked impoundments, a little historical background could be of assistance. Fish stocking began way back in the 1980s when a joint initiative by community groups and the Queensland Government established the Recreational Fishing Enhancement Program. The idea was that local community groups were fundraising to stock their local waters and the government would then also contribute. After about 10 years several very successful freshwater fisheries were established. So much so, it wasn’t long before it was beyond the capability of the local community to raise funds to keep pace with influx of tourist anglers. Some tourists even came from interstate.
A new approach to funding had to be devised. FFSAQ and the stocking groups came up with the idea of a permit for fishing these stocked dams. State legislation was necessary for the scheme to be effective, but the state government wasn’t interested. Even though the government currently promotes the scheme as theirs, it took 12 years of community persistence to eventually get the government to approve the concept. Not all dams require permits; if a community does not want to add their dam to the permit scheme, it is their choice. However, once part of the scheme, anglers are legally bound to purchase a permit. It’s important to note that a single permit entitles a family to fish all SIP dams in Queensland.
There is no denying that since the creation of the scheme, the fishing experience and productivity of these waters has reached amazing standards. These dams now cater for all levels of angling skills, from beginners to professional tournament anglers. All anglers now get opportunities that didn’t exist before the SIP concept. However, if these experiences are to be maintained, the stocking groups need continuing support. So be part of it, become involved and assist your local stocking group to make your freshwater fishing continue to be pleasurable and rewarding. But, if nothing else, make sure you buy a permit. – Les Kowitz, (FFSAQ)
Fact box 12006
|Dams||% of Angler Preference||Allocation (ex GST)|
Some members of stocking groups have been appointed as Habitat Officers under a program by DPI Fisheries to raise the profile of freshwater fisheries habitat within the Natural Resource Management process.
Eight stocking group members from across Queensland are now voluntarily monitoring the effectiveness of the program for 12 months. Even though some stocking groups have been actively involved for quite a while, FFSAQ has long considered that the initiative should be expanded and become more formalised.
After talks with Fisheries, a trial for the concept was established. In February a workshop was convened to brief all incoming habitat officers of their roles and responsibilities. The main terms of reference were:
1. To be a contact person for Fisheries in relation to habitat issues in their stocking area;
2. To liaise with regional community groups (e.g. NRM groups, catchment and Landcare groups) about fisheries habitat issues and promote the need for these issues to be addressed in catchment management plans; and
3. To promote fisheries habitat protection and enhancement through the distribution of brochures, posters, and signage provided by Fisheries.
It has long been considered that fisheries issues rarely rate a mention in catchment management groups. It’s hoped that this involvement may contribute to more recognition of freshwater fisheries in the future. There is considerable funding available through the likes of the Natural Heritage Trust, but most of this is only channelled through community based NRM regional groups. Government departments have no official access to these groups. – Les Kowitz, (FFSAQ)Reads: 691