Budget error for fishing sector

Tim Grose from Recfishwest with local fisherman James Florisson at North Beach. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d438771
Tim Grose from Recfishwest with local fisherman James Florisson at North Beach. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d438771

AN error in State Budget papers sparked fears of significant cuts to the State⿿s recreational fishing sector last week.

The State Government reaffirmed its support for the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund after concerns were raised by Recfishwest and State Labor last week.

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 were raised when an $800,000 reduction was identified in the latest budget.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland said the State 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 the ‘people’s fund’ would remain a Government priority,” he said.

The State 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.

State Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the State 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. “The Government has been a strong supporter of the recreational fishing sector and will continue to ensure that Western Australia has some of the best managed fisheries in the world.”

Dr Rowland said it was integral the State Government did not look to the fisheries sector for planned savings.

“We look forward in seeing the detail of where the savings will now be made.”