The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the national organisation representing the recreational fishing community, has called for the federal government to provide detail on its plans to deal with the Geelong Star now that another dolphin death has been reported on its current fishing trip. This is the ninth dolphin death reported since it started fishing in April this year.
Under the government’s fishing regulations, the most recent dolphin death will see the Geelong Star banned from fishing a zone from Sydney to Flinders Island for six months. It was banned from fishing at night following previous dolphin mortalities.
‘We understand that because this operation is fishing the food source of sea mammals that interactions with them will occur. However, this current mortality raises some serious questions about the future management of this fishery,’ said an ARFF spokesperson.
‘Strict regulations were imposed on the operations following the previous dolphin deaths, including new dolphin excluder devices, a ban on night fishing and six month bans on fishing zones where there has been a dolphin death reported.
‘What has gone wrong with the new dolphin excluder devices that we now see further dolphin deaths?’ the spokesperson questioned.
‘The minister and AFMA both stated that the rate of previous dolphin deaths was un-acceptable – we have just seen one more. When is one more too many?
‘We ask that the government release the video footage from the dolphin mortality interaction so that this process is transparent.
‘With the Geelong Star now excluded from one of the of the seven fishing zones in the small pelagic fishery this will concentrate fishing pressure in the other zones, including some of Australia’s most iconic recreational fishing locations.
‘What are the government’s plans to ensure fishing pressure is sustainable in these remaining areas and what isbeing done to minimise the impacts on recreational fishers and the communities that support them?
The group said it was ‘time the federal government detailed their plans to deal with industrial scale commercial operations in this fishery and answer these questions.
‘It is our view that the government’s band-aid solutions so far are obscuring the real question here, and that is, whether industrial scale commercial fishing is the highest value use for the small pelagic fishery?
‘We wrote to Senator Colbeck, parliamentary secretary for fisheries, last week listing our concerns about the management of the small pelagic fishery, outlining a way forward to address the concerns by recreational fishers. We look forward to the government’s response and working with them on a long-term solution to this issue.’