A local marine scale fisher is hoping the state government’s fishery reform package will make things fairer for all South Australians, including commercial fishers.
The government announced in late December a multi-million dollar structural reform package that included a $20-million voluntary buy-back scheme to remove 100 commercial net and long-line licences.
The package also includes a recreational fishing survey to investigate the recreational catch, including participation levels and how much fish is being caught.
Marine scale fisherman Hugh Bayly said it was important to find out the recreational catch as it would be essential in learning the fish stocks’ biomass and what the recoverable catch would be.
“You can’t figure out the biomass when you don’t even know what’s being taken out,” he said.
“Stocks are declining because there’s an overcapacity of the taking of fish, that’s on the commercial and recreational side.”
Mr Bayly said the Marine Fishers Association instigated the state government’s review process, which led to the plan.
The state government estimated there were 277,000 people, or one in six South Australians, participating in recreational fishing.
Mr Bayly said any notion commercial fishers were taking more out of the water than recreational fishers did not make sense, especially as there were only about 300 marine scale fishers operating in South Australia.
He said the number of recreational fishers had increased across South Australia.
“We just want balance as we’re part of the users for the resource,” he said.
Mr Bayly said the commercial sector did not want an advantage over the recreational sector, it was just hoping for fairness for everybody, including those who did not fish but enjoyed fresh seafood.
“The fish belong to everyone, the recreationals have the right to catch it, the public have the right to eat it and commercials have the right to make a living off of it,” he said.