Dennis White, Geelong, Vic
As a Port Phillip Bay commercial fishing licence holder and Field & Game member, I would like to respond to your article “Fishers welcome net ban” in the Feb-april 2016 edition of Field & Game. In my experience going through this disgraceful buyback process with the Andrews Government, I am now fully aware, as we all should be, this government has no consideration for minority groups. Simply, it is where the votes are. We shooters are a minority group. The legislation change was not based on evidence or accurate statistics, and I would like to advise your readers of the facts that have been ignored by the Andrews Government and some of the recreational sectors. • The Government ignored the fact that commercial fishing stocks (particularly those targeted by recreational fishers — King George whiting and snapper) in Port Phillip Bay have been certified as ecologically sustainable. There is more than enough fish for recreational and commercial fishers to
share, as per the Fisheries Act 1995. • The closure of the PPB net fishery means that recreational fishers will no longer be able to access a local source of fresh bait from PPB. There has been no scientific reporting of recreational catch since 2001, therefore we do not know the impact of recreational catches ( and increasing the number) has on the Bay. We do know that for species such as snapper, the recreational catch is at least 4 times that of the commercial sector in PPB. The Government ignored the fact that the closing of the commercial net fishery is denying the Victorian public, who do not recreationally fish, a source of sustainable and local fish. This was an issue of equity which was completely overlooked. • The methods used by Ernst and Young to estimate the recreational fishing contribution to the economy have been reviewed by scientists and are found to be flawed, biased, and have resulted in a gross overestimate of the value of the recreational sector. All of these facts have been verified in two reports by an international and independent fisheries scientist. I would be happy to send you these reports if you would like more details.
The PPB small-scale fishery is world class in terms of sustainability, and what many countries are aspiring to. The closure has had a devastating effect on many families and their livelihoods, purely in a vote grabbing exercise. This has been a shameful example of poor, and inequitable fisheries governance.
I am concerned about our future as shooters, that's why I was prompted to give you a brief insight as to how this Government has treated us and hope FGA members do not get the same treatment.
It's a fact FGA provides a great service to members and the public alike, but beware, it's not about what's right or wrong, but where the votes are!