Fishing Exemption Bid

Thursday May 14, 2020

Publushed by The Border Watch

By Raquel Mustillo

CALL FOR CHANGE: Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has used the experience of Limestone Coast angler Malcolm Lockwood to highlight the need to axe the current snapper tag system and implement a bag limit of three snapper per day for the fishery.

Mount Gambier MP backs push to overturn Limestone Coast snapper ban

ALMOST 400 recreational fishers signed a petition calling on the State Government to axe the snapper tag system in Limestone Coast waters and implement a bag limit of three snapper per day for the fishery.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell tabled the petition of 379 names in parliament, telling the house signatories from Mount Gambier, Port MacDonnell, Carpenter Rocks, Pelican Point, Naracoorte, OB Flat and Beachport had expressed concern about the state’s management system.

The independent MP launched a petition to overturn the tagged system, which will provide just 303 amateur anglers from the Limestone Coast, Murray Bridge and Kangaroo Island areas a limited number of tags to catch five snapper each year in South East waters.

Mr Bell said a report used to justify the current snapper management scheme, which found South Australia’s snapper stocks were “decimated”, did not consider the unique marine environment in the South East.

In announcing the scheme, Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said drastic action was required because of the significant decrease in snapper population in Gulf St Vincent and the Spencer Gulf.

“The conditions are very different to both gulfs,” Mr Bell said.

“Some of our recreational fishers have been, in their eyes, unfairly penalised due to a statewide strategy.

“It is really important to acknowledge they are frustrated because our snapper stocks in the lower South East come from Port Phillip Bay over in Victoria.”

Mr Bell said a report by the Victorian Fisheries Authority found record numbers of snapper in 2018 in Port Phillip Bay.

He quoted the report, telling parliament “(2018) has proven to be a phenomenal year for Victoria snapper stocks, with record recruitment found in Port Phillip Bay”.

“2018 is the best year of snapper stock in the past 26 years of sampling by the Victorian Fisheries Authority, leading to predictions of strong catches in the forward future, particularly three years’ time.”

“So, in light of that, the minister has always said that he will let science dictate the regulations going forward.

“On behalf of the 379 people who have signed the petition, in particular people like Malcolm Lockwood, who was unable to secure one of the five tags for snapper, I’m asking the minister allow science to dictate the strategy in the South East waters for 2021.”

Mr Bell said recreational fishers approved of a bag limit of three snapper each day for the lower South East for the next two years.

“When you compare that to Victoria which has a 10 snapper per bag limit at 28 centimetres, ours staying at 38cm and a bag limit of three appears very reasonable to myself,” he said.