Fishermen fear new daily bag limits will hurt coastal economy

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

New limits: Tony Steiner fishing at north Maroubra beach – “I believe in [taking] what you can eat fresh”. Photo: Nick MoirHow many fish does it take to feed a family? For Tony Steiner, the answer is three – cooked with butter and lemon on the barbecue at his Maroubra home.

“It’s beautiful, it’s fresh, not a frozen packet meal,” he says.

But recreational fishers who prefer heftier hauls are disappointed by a state government decision to slash daily bag limits, saying it makes fishing trips unviable, and will dampen tourism in coastal towns ahead of the summer fishing season.

The government says 10 fish per day for species such as flathead, bream and tailor – down from the previous limit of 20 – is enough for “a person to feed themselves and their family”. It believes the rules, which came into force this week, will protect fish stocks, help prevent black marketing and allow everyone a fair share of the catch.

Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW chairman Stan Konstantaras claimed the move was “crazy” and not backed by evidence.

“We want to see some better science around it. The question is, where do we go from here? Do we halve [the bag limit] again in five years? That’s our concern,” he said.

An estimated 14 per cent of NSW residents are recreational fishers and the industry is worth about $3.5 billion to the economy each year.

Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said the changes were “modest” and informed by extensive consultation and feedback from thousands of recreational fishers.

She said most people who made submissions supported the changes, which include new size limits for Murray cod, an extension of fishing closures at spawning times and gear restrictions.

Mr Steiner, who fishes several times a week, prefers to “take a few home then let the rest go … I believe in [taking] what you can eat fresh”.

But Mr Konstantaras said the new bag limits were not worth the trip for inland anglers who head to coastal towns for a day’s fishing.

“It really isn’t viable for them to do a four-hour round trip and spend $100 [in fuel],” he said, adding it would “have a huge socio-economic impact” on fishing towns.

Eden Amateur Fishing Club president Bob Wilcox said 10 fish could be caught in half an hour “on a good day”, bringing fishing trips to a premature end.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW campaigns director Daisy Barham welcomed the reduced bag limits, but said further reform was needed, such as banning crab pots that inadvertently caught turtles.

Labor MP Steve Whan said a lack of official published data on fish stocks meant there was little evidence on which to assess the new bag limits.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Primary industries said while bag limits had been reduced, the possession limit remained at 20. This meant those who travelled long distances could catch 10 fish a day over two days.

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