From Mel Brown:
Mel Brown AM
Mel Brown AM
15 April 2016
The Hon. Niall Blair MLC
Minister for Primary Industries
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
RE: DPI FISHERIES COMPLAINTS HANDLING PROTOCOLS.
Does the complaints’ handling policy on your website under the banner of NSW Trade and Investment apply to NSW DPI Fisheries staff?
On Monday 14th March 2016 at 7.30 am I sent by email correspondence to Mr Peter Gallagher, Programme Leader – Marine Protected Areas, an official complaint that a statement in one of the Hawkesbury Bioregion’s accompanying documents “Review of 15 Pre – identified Sites” was false – to wit
“Rationale for excluding spearfishing was based on research from the U.S.A. at the time of declaration (1982) which indicated that this fishing method makes fish less approachable by passive divers wanting to photograph or study them (DPI internal 1979)”.
A copy of this correspondence is enclosed. To this date I have not received an acknowledgement or response from Peter Gallagher.
Dot point 4 of the complaints handling policy requires all complaints to be acknowledged and complainants kept informed about the progress of the matter, particularly if delays occur.
This protocol has been ignored - Further under the section RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMPLAINTS INVESTIGATION it names the Executive Director FISHERIES NSW and goes on to require “Branch head to ensure complaints are thoroughly investigated and reported on _ _ _ _ and the complainant advised of outcomes within one month.
Again this has not occurred.
Could you please advise on why my complaint has been treated with such appalling indifference by your fisheries department?
It is of importance to spearfishers that the injustice perpetrated by this snide and derogatory comment that unfairly stigmatizes this fishing activity is rectified.
Every day this claim continues in print compounds the damage.
Melven Brown AM
With sadness to announce USFA life member Slim Ward (433L) passed away this week.
Dr M. H. Cass (ALP VIC) told Federal Parliament in March that an underwater snorkel on sale in Australia was lethal.
He asked the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, to investigate the sale of the snorkel.
Mr Gorton agreed to make the inquiries.
The snorkel was described by Dr Cass as a long, underwater breathing snorkel with Ping-Pong valves.
He said that an 8 year old boy had drowned in three feet of water while using the snorkel.
From: The Fisherman Winter, 1970 pg. 21.
Monday, 14 March 2016
Mr. Peter Gallagher
Program Leader – Marine Protected Areas
Locked Bag 1
NELSON BAY NSW 2315
I am writing to lodge an official complaint re a statement in one of the Hawkesbury Bioregions accompanying documents “Review of 15 Pre – identified Sites”.
If you are not the appropriate person to deal with this complaint could you please advise ASAP.
On page 34 which deals with the North Harbour Reserve it justifies the lock – out of spearfishers with this statement “Rationale for excluding spearfishing was based on research from the U.S.A. at the time of declaration (1982) which indicated that this fishing method makes fish less approachable by passive divers wanting to photograph or study them (DPI internal 1979)”.
This statement is a little milder than that made in writing in correspondence from B. Lynch for G.H. Knowles Director General Department of Agriculture to George Davies (Federal Secretary of the Australian Underwater Federation) dated 29th October 1985 – “The rationale for excluding spearfishing from the North Harbour Reserve is based on studies conducted in the United States of America which has shown that spearfishing, as opposed to most other common methods of fishing, scares the fish to the extent that they are no longer readily approachable by divers wanting to photograph or study them”.
This statement was fraudulent and dishonest then and remains fraudulent, dishonest and misleading to this day.
On receiving a copy of the above correspondence I queried the validity of this statement in correspondence to George Davies dated 29th November 1985 as I had copies of all known spearfishing studies and immediately suspected this statement was false.
George Davies again wrote to the Director General (undated, copy received by me on 5/2/86) requesting a copy of this “study” to enable us to determine its relevance to Australian conditions.
Following a meeting of the Recreational Fishermen’s Advisory Council George Davies received a verbal apology from Dr. Peter Ayres, Director of Fisheries for “some sections of the previous letter (29/10/85” however this was never put in writing and no copy of the “study” was produced, prompting another written request.
George Davies wrote again on 17th June 1986 after finally receiving a copy of an article concerning spearfishing in the United States of America. He said in part “In referring to this particular letter (29/10/1985) I find the information therein extremely misleading and inaccurate”.
The “study” had turned out to be nothing more than an article published in the American magazine “Skin Diver” by Bill Barada concerning the neglect of the John Pennekamp State Park and voicing a personal opinion as to spearfishing by the author.
To construe this article as a “study” or having any scientific validity is quite simply reprehensible.
At this particular period of time spearfishing with Scuba was (and still is) extremely prevalent in the U.S.A., whilst spearfishers in NSW had been pro-active in ensuring Scuba spearfishing was prohibited thus providing a depth sanctuary, an initiative that has been extremely successful in conserving shallow water species.
These facts never received any consideration, nor was any expert advice sought from spearfishing representatives in NSW.
An underwater photographer’s biggest problem when photographing fish is the noise his Scuba makes, both on inhalation and exhalation. This is what scares Fish! And this is why professional photographers employ breath – hold diving techniques or use Re – breathers when taking fish photo’s.
The whole art of successful spearfishing is to be able to approach fish without scaring them. The argument that fish are so scared by spearfishing that they are not approachable by other divers is ridiculous and once more evidence of prejudicial treatment by the Department.
I have several times found it necessary to accuse NSW Fisheries of prejudice when dealing with spearfishing matters. This has always been denied but there is no clearer case of prejudice than what has occurred with the locking – out of spearfishers from the North Harbour reserve.
An opinion, judgement or evaluation conceived without proof or competent evidence, but based on what seems valid to one’s own mind.
To be frank I am thoroughly disgusted that after all the correspondence from us concerning this issue, a statement that was corrupt and malicious and injurious to our fishing method is still persisting.
My last correspondence on this issue was to the Manager, Protected Areas on 15th May 2001.
One of my greatest concerns with my many dealings with Fisheries over the years is their inability to be frank and honest and to admit to mistakes and rectify them. The same applies equally to governments (of all persuasions).
My writing to you is just the first step. I am quite prepared to take this as far as necessary to have this injustice rectified.
Could you please advise as a matter of urgency your department’s intentions regarding a resolution?
Melven Brown AM
From Australian Skindivers Magazine April 1964
The Port Kembla Club certainly turned on a well-organized competition on March 14, in conjunction with the City of Greater Wollongong’s 3rd Annual Carnival of Sport. This club showed many of the larger metropolitan clubs that when they said we would have an enjoyable day – they certainly meant it! And the prizes – wow! Never ever have the NSW Executive seen such a line-up of really valuable trophies. No silverware or tin cups but sensible (if not rather too expensive) products including Electric Frypans, TV Lamps, Tea Sets, Sherry Decanter & Glasses, Toasters, Record Players, etc. Over 100 pounds worth of goods all purchased (not donated) by the organizers – the Port Kembla Skindiving Club.
Unfortunately the water was not the clearest although John Black and Brian Raison from Sans Souci Club scored over 300 points each. Bill Lewis caught the heaviest fish (a 25 lbs. Blue Groper) and took home a valuable trophy – a box of pilsener glasses. Continue reading The first South Coast Spearfishing Championships
1937 1 July 1937
The possibility of spearing fish under water is queried by “H.V. In doing so, he challenges the traditional manner of fishing employed by the almost amphibian Torres Straits Island natives. Armed with long spears, Binghi in these parts ventures down several fathoms in search of the finny quarry, and disappears from sight for minutes on end to emerge with a wriggling fish or crayfish impaled on the spear point.
In this submarine venture Binghi wears a pair of “swim glasses” or water tight goggles, which protects his eyes from salt water irritation and permit some yards of under sea vision.
Binghi’s spear thrusts do not have to depend on chance for a success, as they are the result of a perfectly developed marksmanship. So sure of his prowess is the native that on occasions he is able to transfix the brain box of the fish so that it dies instantly, instead of stampeding the rest of the fishy school by its death flurry on the spear point.
From: The Queenslander 1 July 1937 Pg. 2