Fishing ban feud

By Grace Jones | posted on February 28, 2019

FISHERIES Minister Dave Kelly has clapped back at claims made by Recfishwest that it was not adequately consulted prior to the closure of Greens Pool to fishers late last year.

In December, Minister Kelly visited Albany and Denmark to announce a mandatory life jacket trial for rock fishers at Salmon Holes, and the gazettal of fishing at Greens Pool.

Last week, Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland told The Weekender that the organisation was not adequately consulted prior to the closure and stated the fishing ban was “not in the best interests” of all parties that used Greens Pool (‘Claims refuted’, February 21).

Minister Kelly has refuted those claims and said Recfishwest was consulted.

“There were several meetings where the issue was discussed,” he said.

“Written advice was provided to Recfishwest about resource sharing in Greens Pool and the Government’s intention to resolve the issue.

“As well as face-to-face consultation, written advice was also provided to Recfishwest on the 16th August 2018.

“This written advice was received, acknowledged and responded to by Recfishwest.”

During a State parliamentary sitting on Tuesday last week, Rick Mazza MLC from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party moved to have the fishing ban disallowed and questioned Minister Kelly on the consultation process.

Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan responded on behalf of Minister Kelly and stated Recfishwest, the Shire of Denmark, Department of Biosecurity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) were consulted prior to the ban and referenced paper 2432 as evidence.

The Weekender asked Minister Kelly why that document did not record any formal minutes for any of the consultation process.

“Formal minutes are not usually taken for stakeholder consultation,” he replied.

Shadow Minister for Environment Steve Thomas said he had been visiting Greens Pool with his kids for decades.

Dr Thomas said while he enjoyed fishing and spearfishing in the past, he acknowledged that the increasing numbers of visitors to the area made fishing less viable.

“There’s just too many people to do it safely anymore,” he said.

“It gets so busy down there in the summer that any rational person would realise it’s not safe to fish.

“The best outcome for Mazza’s disallowance is to negotiate the ban.”

Dr Thomas said the DBCA wanted “the easiest and quickest fix to the issue”.

“There would be greater effort required if a partial closure is enforced,” he said.

“The question is, is the government strong enough to overrule the DBCA and is there capacity for the department to regulate and manage a partial closure?”

Minister Kelly said the conflict between recreational line and spear fishing and swimmers at Greens Pool had been ongoing for many years and stated that in 2013, the DBCA released the William Bay National Park Recreation Master Plan regarding the various uses of the area.

“It documented the ongoing resource sharing issue and recommended that safety issues arising from this conflict be addressed,” he said.

“With safe recreational fishing locations close by, this closure to fishing to manage resource sharing issues is a common sense move.”

A DBCA spokesperson said they supported the decision to keep fishing lines out of Greens Pool.

Minister Kelly said Greens Pool attracts more than 238,000 visitors each year and was the “only swimming beach on the south coast where fishing was not permitted”.

Shire of Denmark CEO Bill Parker said that the Shire had not been actively involved in the matter as decisions regarding national parks do not fall within their jurisdiction.

A WAFIC spokesperson said at this stage, they did not have any comments to make regarding the fishing ban.