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Author Topic: Lines tangle in fish row as recreation sector seeks limits on commercial operations  (Read 528 times)


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TENSIONS are building ­between professional and recreational fishing groups, amid fears that increasing commercial catches of mackerel and redbait will ruin Tasmania’s game-fishing industry.

National game fishing and recreational fishing representatives last week voiced concerns at a meeting with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in Hobart.

Game fishers raised fears that large commercial redbait and mackerel catches were harming tuna, kingfish and other species by taking away a food source.

They called for science-based restrictions on commercial operators in game fish feeding areas, arguing the issue of depleted pelagic fish numbers had been brought to a head by the introduction of larger boats that could “vacuum” large numbers of fish from a small area.

Game Fishing Association of Australia conservation officer Evan Jones said at stake was the game fishing industry, which had the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for regional economies.

Tim Ward, of the South Australian Research and Dev­elop­ment Institute, told the meeting that instead of a long, complex and expensive ­research program, he believed that the localised depletion issue could be circumvented by adopting a precautionary ­approach, which involved conservative management to ­ensure large numbers of fish were left ­behind in all areas.

AFMA is considering a move-on rule, which would permit no more than 40 per cent of a species’ total allowable catch to be taken from particular areas during a calendar month.

Mr Jones questioned the value of large commercial fisheries involving offshore boats that caught large quantities of fish that sold for low prices.

He said the attention paid by fisheries management authorities to the recreational sector’s needs should be commensurate with the recreational sector’s value.

Mr Jones said a social and economic study was needed into what the recreational ­industries were worth.

“A rethink is needed ... in order to maximise economic return,’’ he said.

AFMA executive manager Nick Rayns said his organisation was determined to ­answer criticisms that it hadn’t been paying enough attention to recreational fishers’ concerns, by forging enduring ties with the recreational fishing sector.

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