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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9221

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (10:32): I want to follow up on the speech I made on fisheries legislation relating to the inquiry I am currently undertaking on the role of science in the future of fisheries and aquaculture. This has been a broad-reaching inquiry and has incidentally been given attention by the recreational fishers because of a concern they have about a large trawler seeking permission to fish in Australian waters. The inquiry has not included the impact on recreational fishers because they are not under the control of AFMA, nor at the moment are they contributing very much to the science—something that I hope they might be able to do in the future if they can use their wide experience and local knowledge to build up more data. This would be a great help to science to know what the take is for recreational fishing in Australia.

The trawler issue has become highly divisive and really has been whipped up by some false information. Getting some proper commentary into the issue has been very hard because of the emotion that has been wrought by Green groups, which, I believe, is directed at ending commercial fishing in Australia. This is further confirmed by the fact that recreational fishing and game-fishing groups withdrew from the working group process established by the minister to try and sort out what some of the facts are in the fishing regions of Australia and how it might affect recreational fishers. While it is disappointing that this has happened, there was progress being made, I understand, by the parties, including quite detailed discussions about possible additional spatial control on the operations of the FV Margiris.

As an independent agency, AFMA will assess any application that comes before it based on the science and the management plan in place for that fishery. To date the Margiris has not submitted on application and is still waiting to be reflagged as an Australian vessel under the Maritime Safety Authority. Like any planning or regulatory authority, there has to be some application to work from. Until that happens, the federal government has to wait and see that assessment from the application.

In the meantime, I believe that rec fishers have given up their opportunity to have a proper say in the future of fishing in Australia relating directly to the issue about which they have concerns. All the peak bodies have met with me as chairman of the committee and they have belatedly asked to appear before the committee but, unfortunately, our program is already set and there is little extra time available.

The committee has heard from some individual groups around Australia who have already arranged to come before the committee and therefore we have had evidence from them on a number of issues, particularly on their views on decline in certain species. However, the evidence must be taken in the overall context of the inquiry, not directed to a particular issue, so I am sad that they have not continued with the federal minister as that was the best medium for them to achieve this. I think we must keep science up to date and relevant for the scrutiny and control of fishing practices in Australia.