Fishing fund backflip

Prawning being carried out in the Swan River.
Prawning being carried out in the Swan River.

THE State Government has reversed its decision to slash funding to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF).

On Wednesday, Fisheries Minister Ken Baston confirmed his support for the RFIF, which will see 25 per cent of recreational fishing licence revenue go to the fund.

This comes despite budget papers showing only 13 per cent of revenue would go to the fund – 12 per cent less than what was initially promised.

Mr Baston said every dollar of recreational fishing licence revenue was reinvested into recreational fishing management and enhancement projects.

“The $800,000 saving mentioned in the budget papers will be identified across the department’s budget, excluding the RFIF,” he said.

“Each year, Recfishwest submit a range of proposals for the Government to consider to be funded out of the RFIF, and I assess these according to the priorities of the state.”

Recfishwest principal policy adviser Leyland Campbell welcomed the move.

“Recfishwest sees this as a suitable result. We will be monitoring where the cost savings are being applied to make sure that recreational fishing is not impacted in any way,” he said.

The not-for-profit community-based organisation was concerned that without the funding there would be no more prawns, mulloway or pink snapper stocked in local rivers.

“Since its inception in 2011, the RFIF has invested $6.5 million into community projects supporting fishing safety, artificial reefs, youth development, education, Fish Aggregation Devices, biological research on important recreational species and stocking of iconic fish species,” Mr Campbell said. “These projects are highly valued by the community.”

A report by Murdoch University has shown the waterway is in the best ecological health for a decade, also noting an increase in species living close to riverbanks.

A RFIF-funded project in 2012-13 to breed and stock the Swan River School Prawn saw more than two million prawns released into the Swan/Canning River last summer.

Recfishwest hopes more mulloway will be stocked in the Swan and Canning rivers after 20,000 mulloway were stocked in lower west coast waters over the past couple of years.