South Australian recreational fishers are being asked to have their say on priorities for the future growth of the sector, including whether a recreational fishing licence would be of benefit to the fishing community.
An online survey is being carried out by the Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (MRFAC) ahead of a recreational fishing strategic plan to be provided to Fisheries Minister, Mr Tim Whetstone.
The fishing community is divided over the possible introduction of a recreational fishing licence, which peak recreational fishing body, RecFish SA suggests could cost anglers around $30 to $50 annually to drop a line.
RecFish SA spokesperson, Mr Alex Williams said while there is mixed views on the issue, if independently managed, a recreational fishing licence could prove beneficial.
“There’s a lot of different areas (the funds) could go to, but in the first instance, it seems like restocking, upgrades to boating facilities and launching facilities, education in schools, fishing programmes, and not to mention just general promotion of recreational fishing,” said Mr Williams.
Mr Williams said Barossa fishers and those who travel into the area to fish at the Warren Reservoir near Williamstown had already been able to experience the benefits of fish restocking enabled by $30 fishing permits there.
“Through a permit system we’ve been able to build a fishery where you can catch a Murray Cod in the Barossa region at around 45 minutes from the city, which is great,” he said.
“There certainly are benefits to a recreational fishing licence, but it needs to be managed independent of Government, for the sole benefit of recreational fishers and it all needs to be very transparent.”
Mr Williams indicated day or short term passes, family concessions, and exemptions for children and seniors would have to be considered in a licence scenario to ensure it did not become prohibitive of the sport’s enjoyment.
An ‘all waters’ licence which was inclusive of rivers, reservoirs and marine waters would ideally be supported by RecFish SA.
“I think it’s really important to come up with a system that works for recreational fishers,” Mr Williams said.
Avid Nuriootpa fisherman, David Mitchell said he’d agree to a licence for South Australia as long as the funds were used only to benefit recreational fishers.
“They’re talking about a yearly thing which would be good… especially for those blokes like me who do six months of the year,” said David, who began his passion for fishing at eight years old, and frequents fishing spots along the river as well as marine waters off Yorke Peninsula.
“It would be good because it will improve ramps, it will improve probably the national parks themselves and the fish stocks.
“It might stop a lot of pilfering that goes on, people going out and getting an undersize catch.
“I just wouldn’t want to see it going into general revenue.”