2019 Election and the Return of Federal Labor “Lock Outs”

Recreational fishing in Western Australia is governed by state laws and is largely a state responsibility, so as you prepare to tuck into a democracy sausage on May 18th you could be forgiven for thinking the federal election cannot possibly impact your fishing experience, unfortunately, this is simply not true.

So far this election campaign, the current Coalition government has pledged $29 million for a variety of fishing-based initiatives including $20 million to improve boating facilities and $8 million to restore habitat.

To learn more about the Coalition $29 million commitment click here.

Less than 24 hours after first publishing this article highlighting the fact the Australia Labor Party (ALP) had so far failed to announce any commitments, they pledged $45 million to improve recreational fishing including improving boat ramps, native fish stocking and better consultation processes.

To learn more about the ALP $45 million commitment click here.  

In Western Australia, recreational fishers directly inject $2.4 billion into our local economy every year. The lack of major well-developed commitments by both parties is disappointing, both major parties have failed to fully appreciate just how important fishing is to the community and to the economy.

One area of major difference between the two key parties that is likely to impact on your fishing experience is the way they plan to manage our network of Commonwealth marine parks. The 2019 election is looming as a watershed moment in the way these parks are managed.

Like most fishers, Recfishwest support marine parks when they are created for the right reasons, put in the right places and implemented using simple, practical management that is risk-based, transparent and subject to regular review.




To read Recfishwest’s position on marine parks click here

Developing Australia’s network of Commonwealth marine parks has been a very long and time-consuming process that started more than 20 years ago. Recfishwest has participated in this process from the beginning and has invested many years of hard work and submitted countless submissions during this time.  In July last year, Australia’s very first complete network of Commonwealth marine parks came into effect, providing Australia with one of the largest areas of marine protection in the world.

To learn more about the history of Australia’s network of Commonwealth marine parks click here.

Despite management plans for Western Australia’s Commonwealth marine parks taking effect on 1st July 2018, the Australian Labor Party has announced it does not intend to let the current 10 year management plans run their course and has committed to replacing the current management plans with ones they developed back in 2012 when last in government.

Recfishwest believe the current management plans provide far better environmental, social and economic outcomes for Western Australia than the 2012 plans ever did. Some examples of the way the current plans provide much better outcomes than the 2012 plans include;

Perth Canyon (Rottnest Trench) Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans retain access to important fishing grounds near Perth including the Rottnest Trench and the Perth Game Fishing Club’s FAD program west of Rottnest while at the same time providing an additional 134km2 of National Park (IUCN II – Green Zone) protection and 1693km2 of Habitat Protection Area (IUCN IV – Yellow Zone) protection. The current management plans also provide protection for two of the three canyon heads compared to the 2012 plans which provided protection to only one.

Geographe Bay Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans align Commonwealth green and yellow zones to similar zones in the state-based Ngari Capes marine park providing much greater shore to shelf connectivity and making it much easier for people to know where the zones are.

Bremer Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans provide an additional 2,888km2 of green zone protection for the Killer Whale aggregations near Bremer Bay, which will completely disappear if the 2012 plans are implemented.

Dampier Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans allow access to pelagic species in the Madeleine Shoals to the North of Legendre Island, while the irregular boundary of the 2012 green zone made it very hard to know if you are inside or outside of the prohibited fishing area.

 Ningaloo Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans have  116km2 of green zones which align to the state marine park boundaries providing shore to shelf connectivity while the 2012 plans didn’t have any green or yellow zones.

Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Park

The current plans provide 4000km2 more green and yellow zones compared to the 2012 plans and they also improve accessibility for Broome fishers who are known to fish within 30nm of the coastline from Cape Leveque to Broome and within 90nm of Broome.

For a full comparison of the zoning between the current plans and the 2012 plans click here:

Commonwealth marine park – 2019 election comparison of zoning

It should be noted that all sectors of the Australian fishing industry fully support the current management plans, which were created following years of consultation and which achieve a good balance between sustainability and the right of Australians to catch fish, eat fish and make a living from the ocean.

To read a joint industry letter supporting the current management plan, click here.

To view fishing identity Al McGlashan’s view on marine parks, click here.

Recfishwest, The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, Game Fishing Association of Australia, Australian Fishing Trade Association and Seafood Industry Australia have all expressed support for the current management plans, agreeing they achieve an acceptable balance between sustainability and access to Australia’s fish resources. These groups unanimously agree the current plans are a vast improvement on the Frankenstein like 2012 plans Labor wants to bring back to life.

While the Labor Party has been a vocal critic of the current marine park management plans for the Coral Sea they have been largely silent on the current management plans for marine parks in Western Australia. Could this be because the current management plans provide more access to important fishing areas? Or could it be because the current plans provide greater environmental protection in areas where it is needed than the 2012 plans ever did? Or could it simply be the needs of Western Australians are once again playing second fiddle to the Eastern States?

If you get a chance to talk to any of your local candidates in the upcoming election on behalf of the 750,000 Western Australians who go fishing every year, I urge you ask these candidates to pledge their support for maintaining Western Australia’s existing marine park management plans. Regardless of who wins the upcoming election the current management plans are far better than the 2012 plans and all candidates who support fishing and who truly support the environment should support retaining the current plans until they are due for review in 2028.

More Places to Fish, More Fish to Catch

Cast a vote in the 2017 State Election – How your vote could affect your fishing

Recfishwest works tirelessly to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community. With the 2017 state election fast approaching Recfishwest is working to ensure fishers are given the acknowledgement and consideration they deserve.

While Recfishwest has no political affiliation and will never tell anyone how they should vote, we do represent hundreds of thousands of members of the voting public that access the community owned fish resources of Western Australia. With this in mind, we are committed to informing you about all commitments made by registered political parties that are likely to impact on your fishing experiences and let you decide for yourself.

As in previous elections, Recfishwest has provided all political parties with our election “Package for Better Fishing in WA” and have asked each party whether they support this package. In our March Broadcast, we will provide an update outlining the level of support each party has provided for this package and compare the fishing related commitments made by each political party.

Recfishwest’s “Package for Better Fishing in WA” aligns with our vision of ensuring great fishing experiences for all in the WA community forever and will protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the whole community.

It is worth noting that Recfishwest expects current funding levels for Recfishwest, the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and Fishability (formally Fishers with Disabilities) are maintained and as such have not included these in our election package, however, we will inform you if any party plans to change current funding levels for these.

In developing our “Package for Better Fishing in WA” Recfishwest acknowledge the state is currently bound by financial challenges and as such we have developed a fiscally responsible package that contains a number of policy commitments that would benefit fishing at zero cost to government.

The “Package for Better Fishing in WA” contains a number of aspirations and commitments to improve fishing experiences. These fall into two main categories:
• Creating more places to fish, and
• Providing more fish to catch.

More Places to Fish

1. Building the best fishing spots in Australia:

This will see artificial reefs for Albany, Perth, Carnarvon, Broome, Karratha, Port Hedland and Geraldton as well as FADs for Geraldton, Jurien Bay, Broome, Bunbury, Port Hedland, Carnarvon and Perth /Peel. (These reefs and FADs are in addition to artificial reefs in Esperance, Exmouth and Karratha and FADS in Kalbarri, Exmouth and Albany that have already been committed to through the RFIF)

2. Unlocking inland waters:

Recfishwest is calling for impoundments and urban waters to be opened for stocking of popular Australian Native freshwater fish such as Golden Perch, Silver Perch, Murray Cod and Aussie Bass.

3. Breathing life into waterways:

This involves the rehabilitation of shoreline vegetation and establishment of nursery habitats in selected estuaries including the Swan/Canning River.

mulloway reefs

More Fish to Catch

1. 10 million more fish to catch:

Recfishwest is calling for the stocking of 10 million fish including Australian Native Freshwater Fish, Barramundi, Mulloway, Blue Swimmer Crabs, Pink Snapper and Prawns as well as support for hatcheries used in breeding fish for these stocking programs.

2. A better deal for Peel:

The Peel-Harvey Stewardship Package Recfishwest has developed includes a fair and reasonable buyout of some commercial fishing licences, better recreational data collection and management changes to make your experiences fishing for Yellowfin Whiting and Blue Swimmer Crabs better.

3. A fair go for fishers:

Recfishwest is calling for policy changes to support fishing. These changes include:

a. Prioritising Lower West Coast Blue Swimmer Crabs for recreational and tourism purposes.
b. Prohibiting gillnets and beach-seine netting in proximity to coastal towns.
c. Rationalising current commercial fishing pressure in our estuaries.
d. Prioritising Salmon as a key sport fishing and tourism resource.

The commitments contained in Recfishwest’s “Package for Better Fishing in WA” represent an investment of $15 million over four years. Considering the government receives $7.5 million dollars every year through recreational fishing licence fees and that fishing is one of the state’s most popular recreational activities contributing hundreds of millions to the WA economy every year the package Recfishwest has presented to all parties is more than reasonable.

Recfishwest is also in discussions with political parties who wish to make commitments to benefit recreational fishing in WA that fall outside of our “Package for Better Fishing in WA”.

To help ensure fishing receives a fair go this election, ask your local candidates to commit to providing you with more places to fish and more fish to catch.