Monday February 19th
Sutherland Shire Council Meeting – Mayor’s Motion regarding boundaries for Spearfishing – Shelly Beach to Bass and Flinders Point. Creating a new Aquatic Reserve therefore increasing the spearfishing exclusion boundaries. USFA protested peacefully against these Mayoral motions and offered solutions.
USFA Members hold your heads up high!
Last night’s Sutherland Shire council meeting saw an overwhelming number of recreational fishers attending to offer solutions to be able to share the marine resource rather than have spearfishers excluded losing safe access to more of our treasured shallow water hunting grounds.
Every single fishing representative in attendance, close to 150 rec fishers showed class and dignity and gave respect to others of the public, showing the Council the quality of people involved in recreational fishing. Council staff mentioning they had not seen such numbers in attendance at any Council meeting previously.
The Crux of the matter: A protected specie – the Blue Groper was speared, by an unlicensed fisher new to the country, therefore due to the actions of one person fishers are to lose territory.
Our Association and its members boast many generations of experience dealing with issues relating to sharing the spatial areas that we use with other stakeholders and this again came to the fore as the talks given by David McGowan (Pt Hacking Penguins) and Charl deVilliers (St George Dragons President) were on point.
David mentioning the benefits of the ocean for our health and well-being “the ocean is the antidote to modern life”; David expressing that we could flip this problem to an opportunity to solve this together, “as changes to the rules wont change behaviour… yet an engaged community from all sides with guidance and leadership from governing bodies could lead to great things for the marine environment further benefitting the community… Do we turn our backs on each other, close the door and lock it down, or do we open for community collaboration and positive change?”
Charl pointing out that the La Perouse aboriginal land council had not been consulted. Charl expressed there were 40 000 rec fishers in the Shire; he queried the lack of good, respectful and collaborative approach liaising with the community to solve the problems, and finally he asked Council to stop special interest groups who request exclusive access to the public domain.
Note, the USFA, and its speakers representing tonight absolutely condemns the taking of Blue Groper by spear. Spearfishers are not at fault here.
We suggest to the Minister, her Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, and the Sutherland Shire Council the following:
Education: The USFA would like to be involved with the Department to assist concerned locals in communities, and recreational fishers on the fishing regulations, and to promote spearfishing in its best light where people are realising the huge positive impact it has on fitness, well-being and mental health. An open day at Oak Park promoted by governing bodies assisted by USFA local members would be a great start to this ongoing education. Too, encouraging local dive and tackle stores to promote awareness of the Blue Groper.
Science: That there needs to be an index of abundance on Blue Groper. The species have been in an eruptive phase for several decades and it would be worth looking to see if they are a threatening process to other species due to their inter-specific hyper dominant nature, and their sheer biomass. You would look to adaptive management based upon the science and monitoring. The USFA would be happy to assist with this research.
The Mayor and Councillors were impressed by the spearfishers and had good discussion and decided to make amendments to forward on to the Minister. Council looks forward to positive collaboration with community stakeholders and USFA in the ongoing education of people in the benefits of spearfishing and those coming into their community enjoying the wonderful Marine environment the Shire offers.
Thanks must go to the Hon. Mark Banasiak MLC and his amazing team from the SFF Party, Mark you have always stood by the spearo, thank you so much; the amazing crew at St George and Sutherland Shire Anglers Club who turned in in great numbers; various members of the Stop the Lockout Alliance with their banners; the Spearfishing clubs, our tribe! Port Hacking Penguins, St George Dragons, Sans Souci Dolphins, North Shore Sea Hawks (at least 7 members from the Northern beaches came to support!) plus, legends like Alex Bellismo; the Wild Foodmeister; Fergo’s Tackleworld staff, cheers Johnny and team! Adreno Legends – thanks Craig Seadog for being there too, and lastly Danil Hike, Nick Tang, Melven Brown AO, and Bob McComb, what a think tank and awesome action group you guys were with the countless days combined you spent on this with Charlie and David, thank you all so much.
You all came, you were respectful, we left a great impression, thank you! Now for the Minister’s announcement to come, watch this space…..