Meetings Update

Dear Member,

Over the past few weeks the Association has met to discuss problems and aspects of the Guided Fishing Industry, with the new Executive Director Fisheries (Ms Heather Brayford), the Minister for Fisheries (Mr Chris Natt), and the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (Ms Delia Lawrie). Major outcomes of these meetings were as follows:

1. MEETING WITH THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FISHERIES: Matters discussed included:

(i) The FTO Fishery Management Plan
The Government now appears genuinely committed to a management plan. For the first time, the possible introduction of licence limitation – either by limiting access to specific areas or by an overall restriction on total licence numbers – is being openly discussed. Among the range of issues which are also on the table for discussion are:
– the Multi Tier Business Licence,
– protocols for licensing prerequisites relating to public liability insurance, Business Name/Corporate Licences, and Section 14 Nominations Procedures
– the use of Assistant Fishermen within the FTO Fishery
– the introducion of a trainee scheme to provide a career pathway within the industry

(ii) Association Funding
Association running costs currently amount to some $45,000 per annum. In 2005/6 the Government provided a salary grant of $40,000 and fully reimbursed the Association’s administrative costs. In 2006/7 the Government withdrew from this arrangement and provided a total amount of only $42,500. Recently the Government advised that 2007/8 Association funding will be confined to a total of only $40,000. Despite our continuing protests the Government is adamant that additional funding will not be forthcoming and has suggested that the Association implement its own revenue raising measures.

2. MEETING WITH CHRIS NATT MINISTER FOR FISHERIES. Matters raised and discussed included:

(i) The Blue Mud Bay Decision: The NT Government is in the process of seeking leave to appeal the decision in the High Court. As previously notified, FTO Licencees will automatically be granted licences/permits to access the intertidal zone (ITZ) in areas under the control of the Northern Land Council pending the High Court decision. The NLC and the Government are currently in discussion with the Tiwi and Groote Land Councils and are confident that they will join the NLC accord and that separate permits to access the ITZ in areas controlled by those bodies will not be required. NLC FTO Permits will cover FTO cilents and crew – ie FTO clients will not be required to hold individual amateur permits.

(ii) Darwin Harbour Boat Ramps: On a number of occasions in the past, the Association had pointed out to the Minister various ongoing problems with the maintenance of the Dinah Beach boat ramp and other ramps in Darwin Harbour. At this meeting the Minister advised that his officers are in consultation with Infrastructure and Planning about appropriate measures to deal with the problem and undertook to keep the Association informed of progress. Since then (May 10) the state of the Dinah Beach ramp has been brought to the Minister’s attention on two separate occasions but there has been no advice from his office on measures to address the problem

3. MEETING WITH DELIA LAWRIE MINISTER FOR PLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTURE

This meeting was requested by the proprietors and staff of Mary River House Boats and concerned the condition of the road to Corroboree Billabong and the lack of facilities at the boat ramp and the area generally. The Minister advised that an amount of $600,000 had been made available to upgrade the access road and that work would begin on this in September. In the meantime the road would be graded at intervals of approximately six weeks. Ms Lawrie advised that installation of facilities such as toilets at Corroborre was the responsibility of Ms Scrymgour’s Natural Resources and Environment Department, but undertook to liaise with her with a view to designating Corroboree infrastructure as a specific developmental project. Should this eventuate, the next step would be the formation of a working group of stakeholders to advise Government on appropriate facilities and measures to deal with existing problems such as the need for speed restrictions in some of the more constricted waterways.

I will be interstate on holidays until 06 June. Queries on any of the above issues should be addressed to our President Rob Marchant.

Lloyd Browne
Executive Officer