Oak Park Groper issue heats up

Correspondence to the Minister for Agriculture

Correspondence has been sent to the Hon Tara Moriarty MLC Minister for Agriculture regarding the “noise” the USFA are hearing from Sutherland Shire Council, and their Mayor, regarding their appeal to extend the no spearfishing  zone in the Cronulla area and make the area an Aquatic Reserve.  This reaction from the Mayor has occurred from the unfortunate incident of the speared blue groper at that site at the beginning of the year. The USFA will always fight for safe access and will not yield this ground unless unbiased science proves otherwise.

What was detailed in the letter sent to the Minister was our good relationship; how we condemned the act of the person spearing the Groper, reminding the Minister it was the USFA who pushed for the protection of Groper in the late 1960’s;  how USFA members have much experience in sharing the spatial area equitably with other stakeholders and that we could assist the Department with this current issue.

We offered solutions such as better science and education:Science where there needs to be an index of abundance done on the Blue Groper as they 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, as well as their sheer biomass and from these findings look to adaptive management based upon the science and monitoring.  Of course we offer assistance in this research.

Education and ethics are central to our Association and members of the USFA engage positively with members of the public.  Education will not prevent this incident from happening again, however it will reduce the incidents. We offered our involvement with the Department to assist in engaging locals and rec fishers on 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 education day at Oak Park with spearfishing representatives engaging locals and rec fishers was suggested.   Too, encouraging dive outlets and tackle stores to promote awareness of the Blue Groper.

I encourage spearfishers to attend the Council Meeting being held this Monday February 19th from 18 at Level 2, Council Administration Building, 4-20 Eton Street, Sutherland.  Bring a friend.

Thank you

Simon Trippe

President USFA NSW

USFA statement on speared Groper

In light of the recent hand spearing of a Groper at Oak Park, Cronulla where the diver was subsequently fined by authorities for taking a protected NSW marine species, the USFA continues to encourage positive participation in Spearfishing.

The USFA absolutely condemns this isolated act. Spearfishers across the State are upset with this random behaviour that does not represent proper spearfishing practice in any way.

The USFA pushed for the protection of Blue Groper in NSW, and introduced a ban on Blue Groper amongst their association before it became formal.

Education and ethics are central to the Association, and members of the USFA continually engage positively with all participating stakeholders of the marine environment, adhering to our stringent Code of Conduct. https://usfa.org.au/usfa-code/

The USFA are happy to assist newcomers to spearfishing and direct them to the many clubs around NSW that are the learning portals that lead to continued ethical and sustainable fishing.