Fish­ers let off the hook

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film - By TOM RABE

AN er­ror in State Bud­get pa­pers sparked fears of sig­nif­i­cant cuts to WA’s recre­ational fish­ing sec­tor last week.

How­ever, the State Gov­ern­ment has since put fish­ers’ minds at ease and reaf­firmed its sup­port for the Recre­ational Fish­ing Ini­tia­tives Fund (RFIF) af­ter con­cerns were raised by Rec­fish­west and State La­bor last week.

Rec­fish­west, the state’s peak recre­ational fish­ing body, warned of sig­nif­i­cant cuts to con­ser­va­tion and re­stock­ing projects af­ter fears of a 50 per cent re­duc­tion to the RFIF were raised when an $800,000 re­duc­tion was iden­ti­fied in the lat­est bud­get.

Rec­fish­west chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Row­land said the Gov­ern­ment had made an er­ror in its bud­get pa­pers, prompt­ing im­me­di­ate con­cern.

“Es­sen­tially the Gov­ern­ment made a mis­take in their bud­get pa­pers and once they re­alised the im­pact of their mis­take cor­rected it and laid rec fish­ers’ minds to ease and gave them con­fi­dence the ‘peo­ples’ fund’ would re­main a Gov­ern­ment pri­or­ity,” Dr Row­land said.

The Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to di­rect a quar­ter of recre­ational fish­ing li­cence rev­enue to the RFIF in the 2013 elec­tion.

Rec­fish­west projects in­clude the re­stock­ing of prawns into the Swan River and build­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial reef off Man­durah.

State Fish­eries Min­is­ter Ken Bas­ton said the Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to ded­i­cat­ing 25 per cent of recre­ational fish­ing li­cence fees to the RFIF, with the Fish­eries Depart­ment ab­sorb­ing the sav­ings in other ar­eas.

“The $800,000 sav­ing men­tioned in the Bud­get pa­pers will be iden­ti­fied across the depart­ment’s bud­get, ex­clud­ing the Recre­ational Fish­ing Ini­tia­tives Fund,” Mr Bas­ton said.

“The Gov­ern­ment has been a strong sup­porter of the recre­ational fish­ing sec­tor and will con­tinue to en­sure that WA has some of the best man­aged fish­eries in the world.”

Dr Row­land said it was im­per­a­tive that the State Gov­ern­ment did not look to the fish­eries sec­tor for planned sav­ings.

“We look for­ward in see­ing the de­tail of where the sav­ings will now be made. It’s im­por­tant this does not im­pact on the Depart­ment of Fish­eries’ abil­ity to man­age our world class fish­eries sus­tain­ably,” he said.

Mr Bas­ton said he had not yet re­ceived any rec­om­men­da­tions from Rec­fish­west re­gard­ing project fund­ing for 2015-16.

“Each year Rec­fish­west sub­mit a range of pro­pos­als for the Gov­ern­ment to con­sider to be funded out of the RFIF, and I as­sess th­ese ac­cord­ing to the pri­or­i­ties of the State,” he said.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d438771

Tim Grose from Rec Fish West with lo­cal fish­er­man James Floris­son.

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