Fishers let off the hook
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.
Tim Grose from Rec Fish West with local fisherman James Florisson.