Thursday 30th November
Mel Brown AM, Bob McComb and myself arrived at Parliament House to meet several politicians to discuss spearfishing. The Hon. Robert Borsak and the Hon. Mark Banasiak who represent the Shooters and Fishers Party greeted the USFA warmly and a great discussion began about the proposed right to hunt bill, which will include us fishers and spearfishers, and will go lengths to ensure we will have the threat of lockouts extinguished.
Prepped with the confirmation that the SFP will support spearfishers (as was evidenced at the recent proposed Bongin Bongin beach sanctuary supported by the Greens) and with further understanding of the political landscape at Macquarie Street, Mark kindly took us to meet the Hon. Tara Moriarty the Minister for Agriculture (Fisheries is in the portfolio).
This was the first time we have met the new Minister, and Tara was extremely gracious throughout the meeting. We were pleasantly surprised to have the Fisheries Deputy Director General, Sean Sloan, join our meeting online.
Mel, Bob and I (over 100 years of spearfishing lobbying between us) discussed points of interest. Discussing topics such as:
- the USFA advocating ethics, education, safety, inclusion, and spearfishers rights to fish for 75 years, the need for safe access for all age groups and abilities was stressed.
- North Harbour Aquatic Reserve, where spearfishers are the only stakeholder omitted from the reserve, it was a decision made with the flick of a pen with no scientific evidence behind it, nor in 40 years has any scientific data been shown why it should be denied to us. We have requested the Reserve (there are two) particularly the areas around North Head and Dobroyd Point include spearfishing.
- How we could work together to promote spearfishing on International Women’s Day.
- Informing the Minister of our membership: including our newer clubs like the Orca’s who have up to 500 members involved in their club, and indigenous spearfishing club the Mulloways, all eight USFA clubs various activities were mentioned.
- Discussed the recent Sydney Kingfish Cup with its record sign on and growth, and how we contribute to science with Fisheries biologists, giving presentations during the fanfare of the Cup, and were involved with sample collections from the Kingfish to use in their research
- Requesting a Centre of Excellence. Providing a venue where all fishers can meet and further bond community ties, display historic items, a venue to develop future fishers and spearfishers.
- Slot sizes and the issues spearfishers face when imposed on finfish species were discussed, spearfishing is not a trophy fishery, we requested the regulation imposed on spearfishers regarding the Dusky Flathead be reviewed and we would like to go back to the original regulation for spearfishers, that is one fish over 70cm is allowed.
- Having an endorsed spearfishing representative, think someone who actually spearfishes and is approved of by the two NSW spearfishing associations, who will ensure transparent communications with the Minister, Fisheries and all spearfishers across NSW, keeping us abreast of current topics and arising points of interest which has been sadly lacking for several years.
Next step is to follow up with the Ministry on these points, and start the processes, we are fortunate to have the support of the Shooters and Fishers, and the Minister is happy to engage with us ongoing. Overall, an incredibly positive first meeting.