Up to the chal­lenge

I step back into the role of chair­man of FGA in un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances and at a dif­fi­cult and test­ing time. Rob Tre­ble had no op­tion but to re­sign from the boards of FGA and WET, but we were very sorry to lose him, and to see his time as chair­man cut s


It was not good, it was not fair, but it was the right thing to do. We thank Rob for his ser­vice as chair­man and as a board mem­ber of long stand­ing.

The first is­sue we tack­led was the re­place­ment of our CEO with David Mcnabb leav­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion. I would like to thank David for his ser­vice over the past three years, a time when FGA has seen many changes. Our new CEO is Richard Light, who comes to us from the oil in­dus­try, with more than 20 years’ in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence cul­mi­nat­ing with his role as vice pres­i­dent for health and safety for Sch­lum­berger North Amer­ica. Richard was a com­mit­tee mem­ber and shoot mar­shall for the Gulf Coast SPE Sport­ing Clays shoot, which at­tracted 750 shoot­ers, and has com­peted (suc­cess­fully) at World Skeet Cham­pi­onships.

Richard has hunted ex­ten­sively around the world: deer, duck and up­land bird hunt­ing in Aus­tralia; be­ing a con­tract shooter for the US De­part­ment of Na­tional Parks — deer, pig, duck and goose (in­clud­ing at the Thun­der­bird Hunt Club); up­land bird hunt­ing in the US; and nu­mer­ous trips to Ar­gentina to shoot doves in Cor­doba.

He has a strong back­ground in en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment and was his com­pany’s lead ad­vo­cate and re­spon­si­ble ex­ec­u­tive for en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance.

FGA needs strong and skilled ad­vo­cates to pro­tect and de­velop hunt­ing, to se­cure our shoot­ing grounds, de­liver great clay tar­get com­pe­ti­tions and en­sure we are ab­so­lutely on top of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues such as PFAS. Richard brings a broad set of skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to FGA in the ar­eas that are crit­i­cal to our on­go­ing suc­cess.

Duck Sea­son 2018

Our edi­tor has ‘held the presses’ for me on this col­umn un­til we had the Min­is­ter’s an­nounce­ment on the 2018 sea­son. The process nor­mally is that FGA and other hunt­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions are in­vited by the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (GMA) to make a submission to them on what we think the sea­son should be. The GMA then makes its rec­om­men­da­tion to the Min­is­ter, who then makes her de­ci­sion as to what the sea­son will be in terms of time, bag lim­its, species able to be hunted and any other con­di­tion she be­lieves rel­e­vant for that year. There were two things dif­fer­ent this year: firstly, the time be­tween the GMA call­ing for sub­mis­sions and the dead­line for them was much shorter than in pre­vi­ous years, and also, the govern­ment had made clear it wanted changes in the way the Open­ing was man­aged in or­der to avoid a re­peat of the bad be­hav­iour of some hun­ters who let us all down at Karangie last year. Recog­nis­ing that 2018 was again go­ing to be a sea­son with high num­bers of ducks in all ar­eas, FGA’S rec­om­men­da­tion was for a full sea­son, full bag lim­its and the re­turn to the bag of at least two blue-winged shov­el­ers.

The an­nounce­ment has now been made and the sea­son will be open at 9 am on Satur­day, March 17 and close on Mon­day, June 11. The bag limit is 10 ducks but bluewinged shov­eler will be pro­hibited due to per­sis­tent low num­bers of the species.

For open­ing week­end, hunt­ing will com­mence at 9 am on Satur­day and 8 am on Sun­day across the whole state as part of a trial of open­ing the sea­son dur­ing day­light hours. For the rest of the sea­son, hunt­ing times will re­vert to the stan­dard half an hour be­fore sun­rise to half an hour af­ter sun­set

The GMA will also raise the min­i­mum pass mark for the Wa­ter­fowl Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Test from 75 per cent to 85 per cent for

any new game li­cence ap­pli­ca­tions.

In ad­di­tion, new reg­u­la­tions will be in­tro­duced to for­mally re­quire hun­ters to re­trieve all ducks shot and in­clude them in their bag and to re­tain a min­i­mum of at least the breast meat.

We are dis­ap­pointed with the changes made to the open­ing week­end times and the con­tin­ued ex­clu­sion of the blue-winged shov­eler; when we were in­formed about var­i­ous op­tions be­ing can­vassed for the con­duct of this year’s sea­son, we strongly ar­gued against them. How­ever, that is the sea­son for 2018 and it is up to all of us to abide by the reg­u­la­tions and en­joy our hunt­ing. Be in no doubt — if we are ever to lose the abil­ity to hunt ducks in Vic­to­ria, it will not be be­cause of the ac­tiv­ity of protesters, it will be be­cause of the bad be­hav­iour of a very few hun­ters.

Any con­ver­sa­tion with politi­cians re­gard­ing duck hunt­ing will see them talk about ‘so­cial li­cence’.

This con­cept is based on the fact that the peo­ple of Vic­to­ria, in trust for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, own all Vic­to­rian wildlife. The peo­ple al­low a sea­son of sus­tain­able hunt­ing on the ba­sis it is car­ried out eth­i­cally and re­spect­fully by li­censed hun­ters, skilled in iden­ti­fy­ing ducks. This is so­cial li­cence. When­ever the terms of the so­cial li­cence are not com­plied with, the govern­ment will place re­stric­tions on the ac­tiv­ity (e.g. change Open­ing times) and if it senses the so­cial li­cence has been lost, will shut the ac­tiv­ity down. The Aus­tralian ex­port beef in­dus­try was shut down for months when un­eth­i­cal and cruel be­hav­iour to ex­port cat­tle in Asian abat­toirs was ex­posed. This bankrupted many Aus­tralian farm­ers who were in no way to blame and nearly de­stroyed the ex­port beef in­dus­try. The so­cial li­cence had been se­verely dam­aged.

It is im­por­tant that hun­ters un­der­stand that the term ‘so­cial li­cence’ is be­ing ex­ploited by an­i­mal lib­er­a­tionists and ex­treme en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists to at­tack a range of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing min­ing, farm­ing, rac­ing and hunt­ing. Like other con­cepts, so­cial li­cence is be­ing ap­plied and in­ter­preted in ways that were never in­tended when it is was first used by the min­ing in­dus­try to en­gage with peo­ple af­fected di­rectly by the im­pact of min­ing on their lives. As the grey­hound in­dus­try, gra­ziers and the min­ing in­dus­try have seen, this is a chal­lenge we ig­nore at our peril.

We must un­der­stand and value our so­cial li­cence to be able to con­tinue hunt­ing ducks. We do not have a god given right to hunt, we do so un­der a so­cial li­cence and any­one who puts that li­cence at risk (by do­ing the wrong thing on the wet­land) is a much greater risk to us than any num­ber of protesters!

Don’t put up with those who do the wrong thing, they are putting your hunt­ing at risk. FGA wants to see pros­e­cu­tions of those who do the wrong thing and more game of­fi­cers spread more widely on Open­ing.

Hunt­ing at Heart Morass

FGA will be sell­ing keys to the WET prop­erty at the Heart Morass to mem­bers who wish to hunt there again this sea­son. The PFAS con­tam­i­na­tion of Heart Morass from the RAAF base next door re­mains a ma­jor is­sue for us and you can read more about where we stand on page 38.

Wher­ever you hunt this sea­son, as al­ways, it is crit­i­cal that you do so with re­spect and within the law. That will en­sure you not only have a great sea­son this year, but many more to come.

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