Sea fishing fee ruled out, at least for now

THE state government has insisted it will not introduce a fee for recreational saltwater fishing despite commissioning an $18,800 feasibility study into licensing models. 

Last month, the Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Department released a report by fisheries research consultant Sven Frijlink that examined various models for introducing a sea fishing licence. 

The report, funded through the government's Fishwise Community Grant project, does not make any recommendations for changing the system.

But it is accompanied by a disclaimer that it may be further contemplated in regards to declining recreational licence and Fishwise revenues.

Opposition fisheries spokesman Rene Hidding said the government was crafting a revenue-raising scheme that would hit Tasmanian fishermen ``like a new tax''. 

But a spokesman for Fisheries Minister Bryan Green said there were ``no plans whatsoever'' to introduce a fee, and labelled Mr Hidding's remarks ``speculative and inflammatory'. 

Mr Hidding responded by questioning why the report, titled An Assessment of Licensing Arrangements for Tasmania's Marine Recreational Fisheries , was commissioned in the first place. 

``The only reason is because they are looking at ways to raise money for a cash-strapped department,'' he said. 

St Helens Bait and Tackle owner Jamie Henderson said introducing a saltwater fishing licence would erode participation on the East Coast and across the state.

``You'd then see a flow-on effect to businesses such as my own, and the communities that we operate in,'' he said. 

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