Budget blunder sparks fishing fears

AN error in State Budget papers sparked fears of significant cuts to WA�s recreational fishing sector this week.

The State Government reaffirmed its support for the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) yesterday after concerns were raised by Recfishwest and Labor.

Recfishwest, the state�s peak recreational fishing body, warned of significant cuts to conservation and restocking projects after fears of a 50 per cent reduction to the RFIF when an $800,000 reduction was identified in the latest budget.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland said the Government had made an error in its Budget papers, prompting immediate concern.

�Essentially the Government made a mistake in their budget papers and once realised the impact of their mistake corrected it and laid rec fishers minds to ease and gave them confidence that the �peoples fund� would remain a Government priority,� Mr Rowland said.

The Government committed to direct a quarter of recreational fishing licence revenue to the RFIF in the 2013 election.

Recfishwest projects include the restocking of prawns into the Swan River and building an artificial reef off Mandurah.

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the Government was committed to dedicating 25 per cent of recreational fishing licence fees to the RFIF, with the Fisheries Department absorbing the savings in other areas.

�The $800,000 saving mentioned in the Budget papers will be identified across the department�s budget, excluding the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund,� he said.