RecFish SA

03 Jul 2013 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Fisheries a question on the subject of RecFish SA.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: RecFish SA say on their website, in their annual report from November last year, that they approached minister Gago about a recreational fishing licence in 2011, that they were going to conduct a survey with results available in February this year. They also made comments in relation to their own funding, indicating that their funding from PIRSA would expire on what I assume is 1 July 2013, so this week. They say:

In the absence of a RFL [recreational fishing licence] or an ongoing commitment from PIRSA we have no future as a Peak Body.

My questions for the minister are:

1.Has she agreed to extend their funding?

2.What position is she taking on their recreational fishing licence?

3.Has she seen the results of the survey?

4.Is she able to provide the quantum of funding for the Recreational Fishing Guide that was produced recently (how much the research, printing and distribution cost)?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:40): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. I just clarify that the survey that the honourable member is referring to is not the statewide rec fishing survey (that is, who is fishing where, and what sort of fish), but that you are referring to the RecFish survey on rec fishing licences?

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Correct.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you. Yes, I have met with RecFish SA, and they have indicated—and I think they have long held this position; I don't think it is a new position—that the rec fishing industry would significantly benefit from a rec fishing licence. I think South Australia is one of the only (and if not the only, one of the few) jurisdictions that does not require a rec fishing licence. I listened to what RecFish had to say, and they outlined some very compelling arguments for a rec fishing licence, to which I am very sympathetic; however, it is my view that, really, it is a matter for the industry rather than for government to come in with a big stick and create some sort of impost for fishers.

I have said if the rec fishers believe that they have overwhelming industry support from rec fishers—and they were indicating that there was overwhelming support; the rec fishers wanted this—I said, 'Well, if you can show me that there is overwhelming support, then I will look at it.' That is not to say I will implement a fee. I think the government's position in the past has been not to consider a rec fishing licence fee.

I have said to them, 'If you can show me overwhelming support from rec fishers that they want and support the introduction of a fee, then I will take a look at it; but, until you can show me that this is a rec industry-led initiative and that people are really behind this 100 per cent, then it is not a matter that I am interested in looking into.' So, it really has to come from the industry.

The rec fishers indicated that they were prepared to go out and consult with and survey their members. I understand that they still plan to do this. I do not believe that that has been completed as yet, but it has been a while since I have spoken with them. The Hon. Michelle Lensink certainly did not indicate that she knew whether the report had been completed.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: They said they were doing a survey in February.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I don't think they have, though; I am not aware of any survey that has been out. I have not received any report, so I do not think the survey has been done. I am surprised the Hon. Michelle Lensink did not get an update before she came in here with her question. You would think that it would have been well researched and thought through, but obviously she hasn't—she has not bothered to pick up the phone and ask them where their report is, given it is there report. But anyway, that's okay.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Yes, I'll just ask the department.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: It's not my department; this is an independent rec fish industry body. It has nothing to do with government. They are operating completely independent of government, so why wouldn't the Hon. Michelle Lensink pick up the phone and dial and ask them where they are up to? She is so lazy. The opposition are incredibly lazy—incredibly lazy.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Stop digging, minister!

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: As I said, I am not aware that any survey has been completed. I understand that RecFish SA still plan to do that survey, and my position remains exactly the same. I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever of overwhelming support from the industry for the introduction of a recreational fishing licence and, until that, the government's position is that we do not support the introduction. If that work is done, then that is fine.

In terms of funding, I have been advised that we are continuing to work with RecFish SA in relation to the survey and PIRSA is considering assisting with some of the funding of that. We are prepared to assist them in these matters. We know that they do not have access to lots of income, so we have indicated that we are prepared to work with them and assist them with that, but it has to be an industry led position.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:46): I have a supplementary question. Can the minister advise how much the publication was which appeared in this weekend's Sunday Mail which interestingly bears the government of South Australia's insignia and RecFish SA's insignia as the minister tried to say that they operate completely independently?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:46): RecFish SA is an independent industry body and, like many independent bodies, they receive various fundings from various organisations. But they are independent and I think they would take huge offence at the innuendo of the Hon. Michelle Lensink that somehow they are some sort of an appendage of government. I think they would take enormous offence that they are some sort of mouthpiece or appendage of government. They are not. They are independent. In terms of the publication and the cost of that, I would need to take that on notice and I am happy to bring that back as soon as possible.

Members interjecting: