Angling for a better outcome

A 25 per cent drop in expiations for fishers caught doing the wrong thing highlights the failed approach of the State Government to protecting fish stocks.

Freedom of Information documents show that inspectors from Fisheries SA fined or issued just 290 expiation notices in 2014/15 compared with 390 in 2013/14. The amount in fines dropped from nearly $86,000 to $69,000 in the same period.

A 25 per cent drop in expiations for fishers caught doing the wrong thing highlights the failed approach of the State Government to protecting fish stocks.

Freedom of Information documents show that inspectors from Fisheries SA fined or issued just 290 expiation notices in 2014/15 compared with 390 in 2013/14. The amount in fines dropped from nearly $86,000 to $69,000 in the same period.

Shadow Minister for Recreation and Sport Tim Whetstone said feedback from the fishing industry was that a small number of fishers were repeatedly flouting bag and boat limits and there needs to be greater focus on compliance.

“The vast percentage of fishers do the right thing yet they are facing reduced bag and boat limits whilst a small number of fishers repeatedly break current laws,” Mr Whetstone said.

“It is also concerning that Fisheries SA inspection officers cautioned nearly 160 fishers for taking undersized fish in 2014/15 but there were 100 less expiations

“Is a simple slap on the wrist enough? And, are enough fishers doing the wrong thing, being caught?

“Before making any changes to recreational fishing bag, size and boat limits, the Labor Government must crack-down on the minority of fishers who are breaking the law.

“We need to get the basics right before placing any further burdens on the vast majority of law abiding fishers.”

Mr Whetstone said the State Government has about 40 uniformed fisheries compliance officers, which works out to be one paid officer per 6,925 fishers across the state.

“While the State Government is proposing major changes to the recreational fishing sector, continued feedback I have been receiving from recreational fishers is that spotting a fisheries compliance officer is a rare occurrence,” Mr Whetstone said.

“It appears the State Government is pursuing a model of using volunteers and hot line reporting to identify fishers doing the wrong thing but is this adequately and proactively cracking down on those fishers not following the rules?

“There needs to be a greater focus on compliance within the recreational fishing industry than what there currently is in South Australia.”

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