Trawler deal meaningless: Tasmanian Game Fish Association

THE offer from Seafish Tasmania not to fish out of the Bass Strait in the 2016-17 season will not mean much to the recreational fishing industry, the state’s peak game fishing group says.

While Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley on Sunday was talking up the agreement for the Geelong Star trawler to avoid fishing from the Bass Strait and shallow waters of the west and east coasts for the upcoming season, Tasmanian Game Fish Association president John Edwards was dismissing the deal as nonsense.

He said the concession would make little difference to the recreational fishers.

‘‘One of the concessions is to not fish Bass Strait, but it’s not an area where the small bait fish they are targeting gather in any great numbers, so it means nothing,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘They are also offering to avoid shallow waters off the coast, but this is also nonsense as there are very few Commonwealth waters which fall within this depth range anyway.’’

However, Mr Whiteley was maintaining it was significant progress in the long-running debate.

‘‘This is a significant concession that wasn’t even on the table 12 months ago,’’ Mr Whiteley said.

‘‘The new agreement will considerably reduce the area the Geelong Star is able to trawl according to the vessel management plan.

‘‘That should be welcomed by everyone as a significant first step in looking for a win, win situation for everyone.’’

Mr Whiteley said the positive outcome had come after he challenged both parties last year in his Canberra office to build trust and negotiate for a win-win situation.

He said the small pelagic fishery is a shared resource and it was good to see Seafish Tasmania had made considerable efforts to accommodate recreational fishers’ concerns.

‘‘I am glad both parties finally accepted my challenge to build trust and understanding about the commercial operations of the Geelong Star and the concerns of recreational fishers,’’ he said.