AUF SPEARFISHING COMMISSION SUBMISSION
Submissions Closed 24 February 2012
Click here to read the AUF Spearfishing Commission Submission.
Over 400 spearfishers from around Queensland, Australia and the World signed the e-petition and left their own comments. These have now been submitted to the Government with the submission.
In order to make a difference and provide some facts about the Coral Sea and the low impact of selective spearfshing theAUF is working with scientists from
The AUF instigated the 'Great Australian Shark Count' - the largest shark monitoring program in history!
There are very few human visits and these are high value economically and socially for tourism and charter boat operators, fishers and some SCUBA divers.
For spearfishers the
However, the declaration and review of the
We are very fortunate to live in
The GBR extends over 2300km from Torres Strait to Bundaberg and if you include the
All spearfishers aspire of going to the Coral Sea but for most of us it will remain a distant dream. For many divers in
Very few private boats are large enough to travel the 200-400 Nm to the
If spearfishing was totally excluded it would be devastating to the sport as a whole . It would be a massive loss to all spearfishers from
The Commonwealth marine reserve proposal for the Coral Sea region was launched by the Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, on 25 November 2011. The Ministerial media release is available at: www.environment.gov.au/minister/burke/2011/mr20111125.html
Copies of the relevant documents and other supporting materials are available from the website of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities at: www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/coralsea
Anyone with a stake or an interest in this process is invited to make a formal submission to the department before the conclusion of the 90 day consultation period on 24 February 2012.
The department will be conducting information sessions on the marine reserve proposal. Department staff will be available during these sessions and you are welcome to stop by at any time to get details and ask questions.
Please see below details for when and in what towns we will be running information sessions. Times and venue details will be available shortly on the department’s website at: www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/coralsea/consultation
Hervey Bay: Monday 5 December
Cairns: Thursday 8 December
Gladstone: Monday 12 December
Mackay: Tuesday 13 December
Townsville: Friday 16 December
East Marine Conservation Section
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities
Scientific research supports the view that spearfishers catch a tiny proportion of the fish landed each year - less than one percent compared to that caught by other recreational and commercial fishers. Fishery indicators, such as catch per unit effort (CPUE) and average weight, of fish landed by spearfishing have remained stable over time. From records kept during spearfishing competitions, catch rates of 0.09 to 2.57 fish (0.3-3.9kg) per diver hour have been reported.
A recent study of spearfishers in the GBR reported catch rate was 1.08 fish per hour and the mean size of target fish caught by spearfishers was 1.95kg (Frisch et al 2008). The research compared line and spearfishing methods and concluded that, in general, spearfishing was found to be much more selective than line fishing, both in terms of species and size of the fish landed. As a result, the total number of undersized, undesirable or protected fishes captured by spearfishers was far less than the number captured by line fishers.
According to the National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (2003) the annual effort for diving in
A recent survey reported that 84% of people agreed that Spearfishing is a sustainable and selective use of marine resources and 89% of people agreed that in general spearfishers are more environmentally conscious then they were in the past.
The Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) is a representative body that operates on a national to local level and covers the sports of spearfishing, scuba diving and underwater hockey. The AUF as an organization provides rules for spearfishing competitions, record keeping, codes of conduct and importantly, representation to government and other community groups.
The AUF, through the national and state Chairs and the Presidents of local spearfishing clubs in Cooktown, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and South East Queensland, are doing their best as volunteers to promote spearfishing in Queensland waters. We are also aligned with recreational fishing organizations such as Recfish Australia.
The AUF is aware that the Federal Government of Australia has commenced a process of bio-regional planning which includes considering zoning proposals for the Coral Sea.
The Coral Sea is a vast area and considered by many as one of the last frontiers. People travel from all over the world to fish, dive and spearfish these waters. Minority ‘Green’ groups like the WWF and PEW are pushing for a total ‘lock out’ of these areas.
While we have faith in government and the democratic process that a total 'lock out' is unlikely to occur the AUF Spearfishing Commission feels it is very important that we express the views of the Spearfishing fraternity and the importance to us of retaining access to the Coral Sea for our activities.
We do not consider groups with agenda’s like that of PEW and WWF as ‘conservationists’ since conservation implies sustainable use - ‘preservationist’ is probably a more appropriate term.
In 2008 the PEW foundation proposed a total fishing closure of over 1 million square kilometres of the Coral Sea. Of some concern is the fact that in response the Commonwealth Government responded by declaring a Coral Sea Conservation Zone.
While the peak recreational fishing and diving groups represent a broad cross section of the community we often lack the resources that are available to well funded industry and preservation groups, relying instead on a limited pool of volunteers who give up their time for the future of the sport - yet we believe the views of our membership is no less important.
We are of the understanding that the Bio-Regional planning process will result in multiple use zonings including a mixture of protected waters and areas open to fishing and not a total 'lockout'.
The AUF requests the following outcomes:-*The consultation process will be carried out in an open manner.
* We request that the AUF be consulted prior to zoning decisions being taken that will impact upon spearfishers.
* That decisions are based on scientific requirements and that all scientific evidence used to justify a position or decision be independently peer reviewed. Decisions should not be made on emotive propanga as espoused by extreme 'green' preservationists.
* The Government seriously consider and implement the recreational fishing industries policy objectives as detailed in "Recfish Australia Marine Protected Area (MPA) Policy (2007)"
* Bio-Regional Plans should not solely be left in then hands of the Minister. Democratic processes should be followed when determining Bio-Regional Plans and such plans should be totally open to full scrutiny of the Parliament of Australia, all interested stakeholder and the public in general.
The AUF promotes spearfishing as being ‘SAFE SUSTAINABLE SELECTIVE SEAFOOD’:-
While safety is an important consideration in all forms of recreational fishing it is particularly important to educate and promote safe practices when spearfishing. Some of the ways the AUF as an organisation promote our safety message is by having a safety code that is provided to new members, providing safety equipment to clubs and training members on how to use it (oxyviva), discussing safe diving practices at meetings, and reviewing safety messages and how best to promote safe practices.
Safety concerns initiated the SPEARSAFE campaign which facilitates the widespread promotion of safety in the sport to the spearfishing community as a whole, including addressing the culture in the sport and training for participants.
Spearfishing as a form of fishing is very ecologically sustainable and doesn’t produce bycatch. Spearfishers are limited in where and when they can hunt, with factors like visibility, depth of water and strong currents limit where and when you can dive. Importantly, these factors combine to limit the potential impact the sport can have and ensure the conservation of our fisheries resources.
‘Selective’ is the way in which AUF members participate in the sport, taking only enough fish for ones immediate needs and respecting the marine life encountered.
In the future ‘SAFE SUSTAINABLE SELECTIVE SEAFOOD’ will continue to be a major focus for the AUF with the SPEARSAFE campaign supplementing the the ongoing promotion of "safe, sustainable and selective" practices within the sport.