Is the Government’s current spending on recreational fishing adequate given the significant social and economic value generated by recreational fishing?
The short and simple answer is no. Considering 700,000 recreational fishers contribute over a billion dollars to WA GDP and support over 9,000 jobs. The 2023/2024 budget is not reflective of the enormous financial and social value fishing has, especially here in Rockingham.
Rockingham is home to the second highest boat ownership in WA, we have the most amount of rate payer funded boat ramps in WA and considering that 60% of the allocated budget is recouped directly by recreational fishers through licensing fees it’s not adequate. An increase in budget could fund things like finger jetty’s, fishing platforms, more education campaigns around fishing restrictions, education about fishing in schools and support peak industry bodies and businesses.
The budget should increase funding and proceed with an Industry Growth program, much like the $392.4 million announced for small business in the federal budget. This would include, strategic planning, future proofing, education, infrastructure and ensuring regions have sufficient growth to ensure fishing remains one of WA’s most favourite past times.
Do you believe the Government’s current allocation of the available and sustainably demersal fish (dhufish and snapper) in the West Coast Bioregion (Kalbarri to Augusta) delivers the optimum return to the WA community?
It’s important to reach the recovery benchmarks set out in the Fisheries Management Paper No.305 , section 4.2.2 of the Paper refers to consultation with peak bodies of WAFIC and Recfishwest who are the primary source of advice and representation from the commercial and recreational harvesting sectors. It appears that the recent amendments to the legislation have chosen not to seriously consider the advice from these peak bodies, specifically Recfishwest. As stated in the paper, consultation is imperative to informed decision making.
Restrictions to demersal fishing need to be clear, simple, and targeted at restocking the fish population. Advice from peak bodies such as WAFIC and Recfishwest need to be taken seriously, with weighted consideration to the social benefits of recreational fishing, I would like to see an amendment to the paper, that WAFIC and Recfishwest advice is to be given serious consideration before the Minister of Fisheries or DPIRD can amend legislation.
Why should fishers vote for you. If you are elected as the member for Rockingham what are the priority fishing investments, you will campaign for?
As the Independent Member for Rockingham, I would be in a unique position to challenge the amendments and propose alternative restrictions from the advice of Recfishwest and WAFIC. As an Independent, I can raise issues directly in the WA Parliament without having to gain political party support or toe a party line. Rockingham is in an unfortunate, unique position of being the only local government that funds its boat ramps with council rates.
We have 14 boat ramps in Rockingham, all paid for by the City of Rockingham through council rates. All other boat ramps in WA are funded privately or by the Department of Transport. So effectively Rockingham residents pay twice for boat ramps, through rates, and taxes, to pay for everyone else’s boat ramps. This is a big issue that we need to fix and will be a priority.
I will be seeking the Department of Transport to take over the management of the boat ramps and upgrade certain ramps to ensure they have the infrastructure required. I would like to see opportunities for finger jetty’s, fishing platforms or alternative to accommodate our aquatic playground we are so well known for. This will encourage non-boat owners to fish and potentially lead to a new generation of recreational fishers.