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Recreational Fishing Licences

Courageous Decisions

Once again, our governing state politicians have, in their infinite wisdom, come up with a courageous and vote-losing idea of taxing one of life's greatest pleasures, that being fishing.

Whether it's called a fishing tax, fishing levy, fishing fee, fishing licence or a compulsory contribution, the issue of any form of payment for the pleasures of fishing raises several issues and questions, which need to be addressed.

Sth Australians, and Australians for that matter, have always enjoyed the freedom of fishing our pristine and clean SA ocean waters. Fishing is definitely not something we take for granted, but something to look forward to and enjoy, and is used as a release after society's stressful work and daily regime.

Do we have enough taxes & fees ?

Life is full of taxes. We have income tax, bank interest tax, petrol tax, land tax, sales tax, tax on various goods and services, employer tax schemes, various stamp duties etc. On top of all the taxes, we have a system of fees and fines. There are speeding fines, traffic infringement notices, bank fees, late payment fees, council rates, rental fees etc. Anything that enhances or compliments our quality of life is taxed, or soon will be. Does this mean that the air we breath will soon be taxed. Maybe we should claim reimbursement for the smog !!

So, as the cost of fines and fees increase, or new ones are created, this naturally puts a huge dent in our net income, the money we take home after a hard, stressful week at work. In order to maintain our quality of lifestyles, we push the issue for pay increases. Politicians are artistic when it comes to giving themselves pay rises. I believe that the last average pay increase for politicians was about $18,000, some 12 months ago, and achieved with a minimum of fuss. Us common folk have to contend with stalling and delay tactics, either from the government or the Industrial Relations Commission, in order to receive a measly 10% pay rise over a period of 3 years.

Now that we are already contributing a large portion of our net income into taxes, fees and fines, do we really want to pay for another levy ?

Do you believe what the politicians say ?

My views of politicians are, of having a lousy track record in the simple concept of honesty. The ideology behind Parliamentary Privilege, where verbal abuse, accusations and defamatory statements can be made against anyone, whether they be political foes or the general public, without fear of legal reprisals is a disturbing one. Politicians are, in essence, elected to serve us, not the other way around. So the issue of taking their word as gospel is an extremely difficult concept to fathom.

Politicians have an uncanny ability to tell you only what they are obligated to tell you, without compromising any hidden agendas that they may have, relevant to political issues. So rest assured, we will not know the full picture till the concept of a fishing licence is fully in place, should it occur, well before anything can be done about it.

Will monies collected flow back into Recreational Fishing ?

What assurances are there, should a fishing levy be imposed to recreational anglers, that the monies collected will infact flow back into Recreational Fishing ? Unfortunately, given the track record and the government's history in revenue raising, there are no guarantees that this will occur, unless, it's set in legislation.

Are there to be assurances that all of the fees collected will be, in turn, poured straight back into Recreational Fishing. I doubt it, as there will undoubtably be administrative costs incurred in the collection and distribution of the fees.

In the above news article, Loxton Waikerie Mayor, Mrs Cass, makes the statement

" ..... recreational fishers should make a financial contribution to the river and ocean environments."

This statement makes me wonder whether it has anything to do with the environmental problems that recently occurred with pollution and effluent from the River Torrens leaching into the ocean, and the flushing of the Patawalunga/Glenelg Causeways. Is the revenue from the proposed fishing levy to be used in addressing the pollution problem of the River Torrens and the Patawalunga/Glenelg Causeways ? Is there an agenda that involves maintenance and upkeep of the Murray River ?

My answer to the pollution problem is quite simple. Instead of generating revenue by slugging recreational fishermen, and in turn, simply treating the symptoms of water pollution, why not target those people responsible for the environmental pollution, and slug them where it hurts the most - in the hip pocket, and attack the problem at its source.

The above also raises several other questions.

  • Isn't Local Government responsible for our waterways and beach fronts ?
  • If so, shouldn't council rates cover the upkeep and maintenance of our waterways.
  • Isn't Mrs Cass the Loxton Wakerie Mayor, a member of local government ?
  • Doesn't Loxton Wakerie reside along a main waterway - the Murray River ?
  • Would the revenue from the Fishing Licence negate or supplement existing expenditure for our waterways ?

How will monies be collected ?

I for one do not wish to stand in line, during my lunch break, at a government department, waiting to pay a fishing fee or a licence. What is the one common thing we all have to do prior to a fishing trip. We all have to purchase some tackle and bait. So, a possible solution to fee collection could be that there are provisions within all tackle stores in Sth Australia, allowing us to also purchase a fishing licence.

Even though from the angler's point of view, purchasing licences from the tackle store is convenient, it may however not be practical from a logistical or administrative point of view of the tackle store. Tackle shop owners would incur additional management processes to cater as a POS (Point of Sale) for fishing licences. They effectively would incur administrative costs, which need to be recovered.

At what cost ?

  • High probability of a reduction of hobby anglers in SA.
  • Reduction of sales in Tackle and Bait
    • Potential for loss of business - Bankruptcy, Unemployment.
    • Reduction in staff - Unemployment.
  • Detrimental effects on Tourism
    • Loss of dollars into the State.
    • Loss of Business Revenue.
  • Administration and Policing Difficulties
    • Determine POS (Point of Sale) - is it Viable and Acceptable.
    • Determine Administration Costs and how they are funded.
    • Effective Policing difficult to attain with limited resources.
    • Determine Monies Distribution - channelled back into the Fishing Industry.
  • May cost the Government votes in marginal seats ( I can live with that !! ).

Copycat Syndrome

Do you ever get the feeling of De javu ? Hasn't Sth Australia seen a failed introduction of a Recreational Fishing Licence before ? The Government seems to think that the time is ripe for a fresh approach to introducing this levy.

We also seem to be emulating everything that Victoria either does or has. Our Government's approach is "Hey, it works in Victoria, why not here !" The simple answer to that is, Victoria has approximately 4 million recreational anglers as opposed to our 400,000, and the monies do infact flow back into research, re-stocking and maintenance of their rivers and waterways.

Victoria also have far more rivers, and a better quality fish in them ie Trout. To date, we have not seen or heard of how the Government is to responsibly spend the revenue collected. In the above news article, Loxton Waikerie Mayor, Mrs Cass, makes the statement " ..... recreational fishers should make a financial contribution to the river and ocean environments.". That statements is not good enough. We want to know the mechanics of the plan, not just political statements, before we commit ourselves to a fishing levy. We want to know HOW the Government is going to spend OUR money.

Rest assured, we, the voters do have the power to force local and state governments to act upon our legitimate concerns. I have sent written correspondence to both the Primary Industries Minister and the Loxton Waikerie Mayor, raising my concerns with the fishing levy. I have also asked for all documentation, meeting minutes and transcripts from the Environment Resources and Development Committee that I am entitled to under the Freedom of Information Act. Once I receive anything, I will post it onto fishSA.

Have Your Say

The following is an extract from the departmental web site PIRSA, highlighting an avenue of address for submitting concerns and opinions with regards to issues relating to Recreational Fishing.

Recreational Fishing Committee

If you have any concerns or ideas about issues which affect recreational fishing in your local area, your favourite fishing spot or holiday destination, please contact the RFC in that region. The RFCs have been formed to gather information from recreational fishers and provide regional input directly into the fisheries management process.

They can be contacted in writing at the following addresses:

West Coast RFC
Eyre Peninsula RFC

The Secretary The Chairperson
West Coast RFC Eyre Peninsula RFC
PO Box 181 PO Box 46

Upper Spencer Gulf RFC
Yorke Peninsula RFC

The Chairperson The Chairperson
Upper Spencer Gulf RFC Yorke Peninsula RFC
PO Box 712 PO Box 139

Metropolitan RFC
Fleurieu Peninsula RFC

The Secretary The Secretary
Metropolitan RFC Fleurieu Peninsula RFC
53/11 Charlick Circuit PO Box 401

Kangaroo Island RFC
South East RFC

The Chairperson The Secretary
Kangaroo Island RFC South East RFC
PO Box 258 PO Box 113

Inland Waters RFC
The Chairperson
Inland Waters RFC
30 Mills Ave


Personal Opinions

You may think I hold a low regard for politicians ....... well, you're right, I do. When its time to vote, I usually vote for the lesser of two evils, and as the saying goes "keep the bastards honest" !!

As far as the Fishing Licence goes, I'm against it due to the potential negative impact it can have on our Recreational Fishing Industry. I personally cannot see any benefits in introducing a fishing levy. The financial and social costs to the Recreational Fishing Industry far outweigh the amount of revenue that would be generated by the introduction of a fishing licence.

I also consider this levy to be simply a revenue raising exercise, something which the current Sth Australian Government is extremely good at. The reason why I use the word current, is that additional taxes, fees and charges to the general public is extremely courageous, a word which politicians absolutely hate, as we the voters have long memories, and tend to remember at the ballot box.

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