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Federal Election 2019: What’s in it for Victorian anglers?

The answer is quite a lot! Recreational fishing has generally been the domain of State Governments however with national issues such as Commonwealth marine parks, Southern bluefin tuna and super trawlers our sector is now a key focus in Federal Election cycles. Also, there is much greater appreciation about the level of participation and economic contribution by recreational fishers. The national peak body for recreational fishing, the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, estimates there are 5 million recreational fishers across Australia that inject nearly $10 billion dollars of economic contribution.

VRFish is pleased to see recreational fishing feature prominently as part of the 2019 election campaign. Both major parties have released their election platforms they can be compared against each other below. We are not here to tell you who to vote for.

Fresh from our State election in November, it has been terrific to hear pledged investment towards fishing and boating infrastructure. Our boat ramps are in urgent needs of repairs and upgrades as indicated by RACV’s Rate Your Ramp Survey, while larger safe harbour projects such as what is required at Warrnambool will require some co-investment. Labor announced $45 million Supporting Recreational Fishing Fund which is more than double what Coalition is offering up through their $20 million Fishing and Camping Fund.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Marine Parks have become an issue of debate with Labor committing to restore the 2012 Marine Park Network plans. Since then, there has been 6 years of consultation and science review which arrived at the 2018 Marine Park Network which is being implemented now. The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation have stated their disappointment about Labor’s Marine Parks plans which have overshadowed their recreational fishing policy. You can read the full media release here.

What is the impact to Victorian fishers? For us fishing in Commonwealth waters off the Victorian coast, there is no changes as the South-East Marine Park Network is already in place. Both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten have penned open letters to recreational fishers on the issue.

Back to Victoria, one of the key priorities for recreational fishers through our consultation is fish habitat. The Liberal-Nationals have pledged $8 million towards restoring fish habitat, working in partnership with recreational fishers. Labor have put up a $0.5 million for a Give Back to Habitat Campaign.

Victorian recreational fishers were left angry with the fish kills on the Darling River over summer and demonstrated our interest in ensuring the Murray-Darlin Basin plan delivers for our fish and fishing. Labor announced a $10 million native fish breeding and stocking package. We have later learnt $3 million is earmarked towards Victoria’s new purpose-built native fish hatchery to be built in the Shepparton area. VRFish was a staunch advocate for a native fish hatchery which received bi-partisan support at the last State election. The Liberal-Nationals announced a $5 million for a Native Fish Management and Recovery Plan prior to the Federal election campaign.

Finally, both policies missed the opportunity to help recreational fishers have a voice through funding for the national recreational fishing peak body, the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARRF). The Liberal-Nationals policy does commit to $0.4 million towards fisher capacity building however will need to shared across all fishing sectors.

Fishing and Boating Infrastructure

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Labor say:

A $500,000 grant will be provided to the Give Back to Habitat campaign to support on the ground efforts to protect and restore fish habitats. Recreational fishers are some of Australia’s most committed conservationists.

To improve recreational fishing infrastructure across the country, Labor will expand the $10 million Supporting Recreational Fishing Fund, to $45 million. The Supporting Recreational Fishing Fund will primarily focus on upgrading existing and building new boat ramps will help improve safety for people launching their vessels.

Projects to be considered for funding will be identified in consultation with representatives from the recreational fishing community, peak bodies, local government and other elected officials.

Liberal-Nationals say:

A re-elected Morrison Government will deliver $20 million for recreational fishing and camping facilities for local councils to apply to improve, maintain or build new boating, marine rescue, fishing and camping facilities (such as boat ramps).

Through the new Fishing and Camping Program, locals and visitors will get more opportunities to go fishing in our rivers and around our vast coastline.

Fish Habitat

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Labor say:

A $500,000 grant will be provided to the Give Back to Habitat campaign to support on the ground efforts to protect and restore fish habitats. Recreational fishers are some of Australia’s most committed conservationists.

Liberal-Nationals say:

$8 million investment in fisheries habitat restoration: working with fishing clubs to restore marine and estuarine habitats. The health of many fisheries and fish stocks depends on the healthy and proper function of our rivers and estuaries, which provide critical nursery habitats. Our fishers understand better than anyone the need to keep our waterways healthy.

Marine Parks

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Labor say:

Labor has committed to reversing the largest removal of area from conservation in Australian history and restoringthe original 2012 Marine Park Network in full. This includes an adjustment package for commercial fishers, and will still allow recreational fishing in 96 per cent of Commonwealth waters within one hundred kilometres of the shore. lt does not affect the coastline or state waters.

Labor’s commitment to return the marine parks will also involve retaining some very minor improvements in the zoning in the current plans, including small oil and gas exclusion zones off the South Australian coast and the Kimberley Marine Park

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Coalition overturned Labor’s 2012 Marine Parks plans following substantial consultation. As a result, a better balance between protecting the environment and protecting fishing rights has been achieved.

Under our plans recreational fishers can access 97 per cent of waters within 100 kms of the coast. 

Eighty per cent of the Coalition’s network of parks is open to recreational fishing, compared with 64 per cent under Labor’s plans.

Within the Coral Sea Marine Park specifically, recreational fishers can access 76 per cent of the park, compared with 49 per cent under Labor’s plans. 

The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring stability and predictability for recreational fishers by not going back to Labor’s 2012 plans.

Recreational fisher engagement and consultation

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Labor says:

Labor will continue to support the National Recreational Fishing Council and give our recreational fishers a seat at the decision-making table. Chaired by the minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the council will include representatives of both recreational fishers and relevant government departments.

A Shorten Labor Government will establish the first Prime Minister’s Recreational Fishing Roundtable.
The roundtable will meet once a year – industry leaders and recreational fishing groups will be invited to discuss pressing issues with both the prime minister and the minister responsible for fisheries. The annual roundtable will be held in regional Australia – for example North West Tasmania, the North Coast of New South Wales, or Central or North Queensland: areas in Australia where recreational fishing is a major pastime.

The roundtable will be tasked with discussing guaranteed access for recreational anglers to fish, to ensure recreational fishing is supported

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Coalition established the National Recreational Fishing Council in 2O17 to improve the dialogue between recreational fishers and the Australian Government. The council has a mandate to provide feedback to government on policy issues, development and implementation.

The Morrison Government is committed to continuing to support this Council. In addition, in 2018 the Coalition formed Australia’s first National Fisheries Advisory Council (NFAC) with a mandate to provide the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources with information and advice on fisheries issues, proposed legislation and policies.

Through NFAC the Government gains timely information and advice from across the industry’s sectors. Under the Liberal and Nationals Government NFAC has specifically committed to progressing work under the following priority areas:

  • relationship building between commercial,
    recreational and indigenous fishing sectors;
  • access to resources and resource sharing; future proofing the industry, including through attracting workers to fishing;
  • social licence to operate;
  • developing a national approach to fisheries policy and management ensuring a consistent approach to valuation of each sector; and
  • availability and transparency of information for use in management decisions.

The Morrison Government is committed to continuing to harness NFAC to progress work under each of these priority areas. As part of this work NFAC will assist government in the development of develop a National Fishing Plan and a Commonwealth Resource Sharing Framework.

Super Trawlers

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Labor say:

Labor will ensure that Australia’s waters are adequately protected from the risks associated with the use of large-capacity factory freezer trawlers, by banning super trawlers in the Commonwealth’s Small Pelagic Fishery.

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Morrison Government is committed to managing fisheries and making fisheries decisions based on the best available science. That includes decisions on which boats can fish in Commonwealth fisheries and what restrictions are applied to those boats (e.g. quotas, bycatch mitigation measures, observers etc.). The Coalition banned super trawlers in 2015 using the definition of these vessels established by Labor and NGOs (i.e. trawlers 130 m and over). lt stands behind the appropriateness of this ban.

Controlling Carp

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Labor says:

Labor notes that the delivery date for National Carp Control Plan has been extended until December 2019 to allow important new research to address knowledge gaps that have emerged as a result of current work. Before making any decision, Labor will await the final report and control plan and consider the technical feasibility of releasing the carp virus, the associated costs, benefits and risks, and the views of stakeholders and the wider community, including the recreational fishing community.

We will invest $400,000 in Tasmania to eliminate carp

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to delivering the National Carp Control Plan by the end of 2019. The plan will provide the robust scientific evidence and advice needed to inform the decision of whether or not to release the carp virus, and if so how. The research being undertaken under the plan is critical for determining the likely effectiveness of the measures being proposed, and for properly considering the potentially adverse effects of releasing the proposed carp virus. The Morrison Government will only make a final decision after this research is complete.

Recreational Fishing Research

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Labor say:

Labor supports investment into research on the role and impact of recreational fishing including the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation’s (FRDC) ongoing investment in recreational fishing R&D and, in particular, the current national socio-economic study of recreational fishing.

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Morrison Government has launched a national recreational fishing survey with government funding provided through the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

The information collected during the survey will support a better understanding of the economic and social impact, demographics, attitudes and behaviours of the recreational fishing sector. This will provide useful information for considering the recreational fishing sector in setting fisheries management policy settings.

National Gone Fishing Day

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Labor say:

Labor will continue to support National Gone Fishing Day

Fisher Capacity Development

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Liberal-Nationals say:

$400,000 for capacity building for fishing representatives: delivering capacity-building tools to ensure that all relevant fishing sectors are included in decision-making and to maximise their contribution. All participants will gain a well-developed understanding of the regulatory, scientific and economic drivers of fisheries management, which builds on the work of the National Fishing Advisory Council (NFAC) and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

Action on the Murray-Darling Basin

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Labor say:

Labor is committed to:

  • Introducing legislation to repeal the 1,500GL cap on water buybacks.
  • Restoring the integrity of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority by moving its compliance functions to the new Federal EPA, and ordering a formal review of claims that public servants acted unlawfully.
  • Urgently reviewing the impact of climate change on the Murray-Darling Basin now and into the future to determine any change in inflows and evaporation rates.
  • Urgently renegotiating the Menindee Lakes agreement, which determines how the lakes are managed and is now decades out of date.

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Coalition is on track to deliver the Basin Plan – in full without needing to adjust the buyback cap. The Morrison Government is investing more than $136.2 million to enhance the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s compliance and enforcement capability, implement measures to protect low flows in the Barwon-Darling, improve connectivity between rivers and support fish recovery.

The Morrison Government is investing $40 million to support cultural and economic water for the Basin’s lndigenous communities – creating opportunities for them to secure real economic benefits. The Coalition have also introduced legislation to ensure an lndigenous member on the Murray Darling Basin Authority.

We are investing $25 million to strengthen the economic and social resilience of 15 Basin communities through the Murray Darling Basin Economic Development Program.

We have introduced legislation to ensure an lndigenous member on the Murray Darling Basin Authority. We have delivered key amendments to the Basin Plan that will deliver environmental benefits at a much lower socialand economic cost for Basin communities.

The Coalition’s $20 million for scientific research on water and environmental management, builds on $3 million

being provided to the CSIRO for ecosystem research. We are investing $5 million in a Basin-wide Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy.

The Morrison Government announced an independent panel to undertake a broad ranging assessment of the social and economic conditions in irrigation communities across the Murray-Darling Basin.

Native Fish Recovery

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Labor say:

Labor will invest $10 million into native fish breeding and stocking around Australia to stock 10 million native fish a year into rivers such as the Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Darling, Murrumbidgee, Edwards, Wakool, Peel, Macquarie, Barwon, McIntyre, Culgoa – but this list is not finite and we will work with recreational fishing groups to determine where to make investments.

Labor will consult with recreational fishing groups on the best way to replenish native fish stocks, such as which species and breeds should be priorities. Options for funding will include funding support for dedicated fish hatcheries and co-investing in existing state government native fish breeding programs.

Labor will ensure the federal program works closely with closely with similar state programs, such as that run by Fisheries Victoria.

Liberal-Nationals say:

The Morrison Government understands our inland waterways are highly valued and enjoyed by recreational anglers. Recreational fishing groups play an active role in restocking and rehabilitating inland rivers, streams and lakes.

The tragic fish deaths that occurred at Menindee and the lower Darling in December 2018 and January 2019 have been widely felt – from recreational fishers to communities along the Murray-Darling Basin river system.

We’ve responded with a range of measures addressing the findings of the independent panel report into the deaths, including:

  • $10 million to support native fish restocking and establish new fish hatcheries in Menindee and St George;
  • o $20 million for scientific research on water and environmental management;
  • $26 million to improve water measurement and satellite monitoring in the northern Basin;
  • accelerating investment and delivery of works to improve fish movement from the Barwon-Darling right through to the Murray River;
  • creating an early warning system to help all Basin governments and the Murray Darling Basin Authority respond quickly when river and weather conditions threaten natiVe fish stocks;
  • $5 million for the development of a Basin-wide Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy;
  • extending the Native Fish Demonstration Reach program to the lower Darling; and
  • committing an extra $3 million into Basin-wide monitoring and evaluation to maintain vigilance on the health of native fish stocks and the system as a whole.

Southern bluefin tuna access

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Liberal-Nationals say:

The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring ongoing access to this stock by both recreational and commercial fishers. A number of priorities to progress the resource shoring of SBT between sectors hove been agreed.

These priorities include:

  • implementation of a program to work with recreational fishers on SBT and fish handling practices (Tuna Champions);
  • an interim set aside of 250 tonnes to begin to account for recreational catch, noting that the annual decision on allocation for the commercial sector is a matter for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority;
  • undertaking a national survey of recreational catch commencing in 2018; and
  • development of an agreement with relevant state governments on resource sharing and management.

Tuna Champions is already underway and the interim set aside has been implemented. The Coalition has committed $2.3 million for the national survey to update our knowledge of the recreational SBT catch and contracted the University of Tasmania to undertake the survey.

Data collection began in December 2018 and will conclude late in 2019. Results of the survey are expected to be available mid-2020. These survey results will be used to inform future discussions on the resource sharing of SBT.

Ensuring fair and equitable access to SBT resources by each fishing sector (including the recreational sector) is a central aim in all of the work outlined above.

Disclaimer: This information has been compiled in good faith using materials publicly available or sourced from the political parties themselves. Any errors or additional information can be directed to [email protected] This is not intended to be a how to vote card.

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