Well we missed the tenth birthday of the Recreational Fishing Branch which was in June. So after 10 years in the harness I have decided to retire and do my bit to increase recreational fishing effort.
Looking back over the decade I am proud of our achievements. From a modest beginning with just Greg Double, now a well known name in recreational fishing, we have built a substantial education and awareness program and fish care and fish for the future is now a household word.
We managed to catch Dr Jeremy Lyle with a well placed bait, and he has certainly done a lot of research on the fishery. In 1995, a major landmark was getting the Licensing Trust Fund going. It has provided funding for projects and programs to improve the recreational fishery.
In 1996 we encouraged the Commonwealth to introduce the Fishcare Program, which grew into the Fisheries Action Program under the Natural Heritage Trust. That's when Avril Brown, the Fishcare co-ordinator, joined us. It's worth noting that more than $1.5 million has been provided by the Natural Heritage Trust to fund fisheries-related projects since 1997, and that has been matched by State contributions
Well certainly, there have been a lot of management changes for both the commercial and the recreational sector. The D'Entrecasteaux Channel, the Derwent River and the Huon River as well as Georges Bay have been set aside mainly for recreational fishing.
Management controls have also been introduced to make netting more responsible. About 46 areas have been set aside as no-netting areas to protect sensitive habitat and provide refuge for some species. There are now controls on soak times for nets and limits on the amount of net allowed per boat. The introduction of bag limits for all species was a big change well accepted. It's all about making sure we have fish for the future and giving all groups a fair go.
It just goes to show that if you have a dream and surround yourself with positive people you can make it happen. But there is still plenty to do to make sure we preserve our recreational fishery.
The scalefish management plan is being reviewed. In the Commercial fishery latent effort has been identified as a key issue. In simple terms there are far too many boats with access to scalefish even though many are not being used to fish at all and a lot of the boats that are used for fishing don't do much at all. A very small number of boats catch most of the fish. This unused fishing capacity does pose a threat to the sustainability of the fishery and any fish species that becomes profitable to catch.
On the recreational side the new Recreational Advisory Committee known as RecFAC have picked out netting, bag limits and removing commercial netting from no netting areas as key issues to address. Put your thinking caps on about what you think needs to be changed to make a better and fairer fishery.
My mother used to say "self praise is no recommendation" but I always reckon it's a whole lot better than nothing at all.
My mother went to join father Frank in the place where the hooks never straighten and where lines don't tangle. I have given Mike a photo of the new family matriarch - my sister Lib - she is a ripper.
I would like to thank all of you for helping me over the years for without your support nothing changes. To the Fishcare volunteers and all the volunteers who have served on the various committees, thankyou. To people who have worked with me and even against me, thankyou.
All the best and remember, fish for the future.