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Australian Anglers Association, (WA Division) Inc.



Objections to Proposed Closure of Part of Busselton Jetty.



The Australian Anglers Association has been following the proposal for a Fish Habitat Protection Area at the Busselton Jetty. We asked to be advised of the public meeting and received the following letter.

We have prepared a written submission, Objection to Proposed Fish Habitat Protection Area at Busselton Jetty, which has been and sent to the Shire of Busselton for the public meeting on 16 May 2003.

Recfishwest have discussed this at their Board Meeting of 14 May and support the approach taken by AAA.

SHIRE OF BUSSELTON
SOUTHERN DRIVE BUSSELTON WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Telephone: (08) 9781 0444 Facsimile: (08) 9752 4958 Email: bsnshire@busselton.wa.gov.au
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

All Communications to The Chief Executive Officer
Locked Bag 1 BUSSELTON WA 6280

Our Ref: 12244

Wednesday, 23 April 2003

Australian Anglers Association, P0 Box 2200, MARMION WA 6020

Re: Busselton Jetty - Fish Habitat Protection Area.

The Busselton Jetty Management Committee has written to Council seeking support for an application, in the first instance, to the Department of Fisheries for a Fish Habitat Protection Area, and ultimately a Marine Sanctuary in the area of the Underwater Observatory.

Council has resolved to advertise to invite written public submissions for the proposal for a clearly marked and signed Fish Habitat Protection Area at the seaward end of the Busselton Jetty. The proposed area is the final 293 metres of the jetty, 100 metres east and west of this entire section of jetty and 100 metres north of the jetty's northern end.

The period of advertising is 42 days and a public workshop is to be held concurrently. The workshop will be facilitated by Council and attendance by representatives of recreational fishing groups, the Busselton Jetty Management Committee, members of the public and Department of Fisheries advisors have been invited. The workshop is to enable public statements to be made, questions to be asked and answers given, and for discussion.

The outcomes from the submissions and workshop are to be reported back to Council for consideration of a submission by Council for an application to the Department of Fisheries for the Fish Habitat Protection Zone.

As a representative of a group with an interest in the matter, Council requests your attendance to the Busselton Jetty Fish Habitat Protection Area Workshop to be held by Council, on Friday 16 May, 2003 from 7.30 pm to 9:30 pm at Churchill Park Hall (adjoining Adelaide Street), Busselton.

The Agenda will be as follows:

Opening
Introduction & Background
Opening Statements (will be recorded and used as submissions to Council)
Questions and Answers
Closing Statements (will be recorded and used as submissions to Council)
Closure

It would be appreciated if you could advise your attendance by Friday 9 May, 2003 by contacting the undersigned at kirstym@busselton.wa.gov.au or on 9781 0402, to assist with floor space arrangements.

Yours faithfully

Kirsty McKechnie

ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT, TECHNICAL SERVICES

cc Len Boyling, Executive Officer; Busselton Jetty Environment & Conservation Assoc. (Inc.)

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Letter to Shire of Busselton, Prepared by T Fuller, 9447 4545, email terryfuller@iinet.net.au at request of AAA Executive at meeting 6 May.

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Chief Executive Officer, Shire of Busselton, Locked Bag 1, BUSSELTON WA 6280

Dear Sir

Objection to Proposed Fish Habitat Protection Area at Busselton Jetty.

The Australian Anglers Association (WA Division) objects to the inclusion of the end of the jetty in the proposed Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA) at the Busselton Jetty.

The Association objects because it understands the effect is that the Fish Habitat Protection Area will include a ban on any form of recreational fishing from the end of the jetty. This is an area of great importance to recreational anglers who do not have access to boats.

The Association represents in excess of 6,000 club recreational anglers from clubs throughout the State. It actively supports and endorses responsible fishing and the preservation of the environment so that all recreational anglers can enjoy continued access through the long term sustainability of their fishing activities.

All comments in this submission refer to anglers who do not use boats, and who are thus restricted to shore fishing (in any of its forms) and jetty fishing. The Association wishes to ensure that there is a definite distinction drawn between jetty based recreational line fishing and recreational fishing from boats. Boat angling gives the anglers considerable freedom and large areas in which to fish compared to the restricted areas that are available to shore and jetty bound anglers.

Description of the proposed FHPA.

The proposed FHPA has been described only in terms of the area it covers, being "the final 293 metres of the jetty, 100 metres east and west of this entire section of jetty and 100 metres north of the jetty's northern end."

The recommendation to the Shire of Busselton as recorded in the Shire Council minutes do not give any other significant details of the proposal, other than the words "and ultimately a Marine Sanctuary". This leads the Association to believe the intention is that all recreational fishing will be banned in this area.

Objectives of the proposed FHPA.

We have not been able to locate any detailed statement of the objectives of the proposed FHPA. We understand that the underwater Observatory and dive groups want to maximise the experience of these users in the vicinity of the observatory, and have proposed the FHPA and thus a ban on recreational fishing as part of the ways to achieve this.

As a general requirement, we expect that the objectives of any proposals will be clearly stated in enough detail so that what is trying to be achieved can be understood by all users.

Once the objectives are understood, users can decide if;

these objectives are necessary, reasonable, equitable and balanced;

whether or not the impact on other users is acceptable as part of the cost of achieving these objectives;

if the objectives should be modified to allow the requirements of other users to be included;

if alternative means are possible to achieve these objectives,

and similar questions which are important whenever the use of any community owned asset is being decided.

The Association objects to the lack of detailed objectives being provided for the proposed FHPA. Without detailed objectives, there is no way of knowing whether the FHPA is achieving its purpose, or if it is larger that necessary. It is too easy to just say, "close off the area, and all will be well."

Need for an area free from recreational fishing.

The Association accepts that some area free from recreational fishing may be required for safety of divers and to preserve resident fish and the environment in an area around the observatory so that users get a good experience out of visiting the observatory or diving in the area. We submit that the fishing exclusion zone should be just large enough to ensure this but no larger. It must recognise the importance of the end of this jetty to shore bound recreational anglers.

We have serious concerns with the proposal that the whole end of the jetty should be closed to recreational fishing and we strongly oppose this, because we do not believe this is necessary to achieve a good experience for users of the Observatory and for divers.

A Fish Habitat Protection Area does not have to exclude all forms of recreational fishing over its entire area. Different parts of the FHPA can allow different activities where these are consistent with the objectives which have been agreed to by the whole community. Every use should be allowed unless there are good reasons to limit some uses and the community supports those restrictions. Any limits should be as liberal as possible consistent with the agreed objectives for the Jetty and the FHPA.

We believe this is a sharing issue for a resource which is owned by the whole community. The solution needs to be equitable and maximize the benefits to all user groups involved. Everyone who has a wish to use the Jetty should have their needs considered. It should not turn into a "one group wins, therefore another group loses" decision. No one user group should get everything they want if that is achieved at the expense of other users.

Importance of the end of the Jetty.

Busselton Jetty is probably the best facility of this kind in our State and the one most used by anglers, because of its accessibility to a large part of the State's population and the long history of recreational fishing.

Many anglers plan their family holidays in the Busselton area so they and their family can enjoy fishing at one of the few remaining jetties in the State. The Observatory will add to the attraction this jetty has for recreational anglers.

The end of the jetty has the only really deep water on the jetty, and allows anglers who do not have access to a boat to fish safely for many deep water pelagic species of fish in all weather. Other parts of the jetty do not have to same attraction for these species of fish which are exclusively pelagic and will thus not be permanent residents.

Anglers have been waiting for some time for repairs to allow access to the end of the jetty and to the deepest water. Just as dive groups want to maximize their experience, recreational anglers also have a legitimate expectation that their fishing experience is also considered and not unduly restricted.

The recent deaths of four anglers washed from rocks while fishing on the south and south west coasts have emphasised the need for and importance of safe fishing platforms for recreational anglers who do not have boats.

The Association urges that continued access for recreational anglers be allowed to the end of the jetty.

Balance between diving and fishing sites.

If enhancement of the underwater diving experience is planned as part of justification for the proposal to stop recreational fishing from the end of the jetty, it should be noted that the proposed underwater observatory is for everyone to use and gives everyone the opportunity to observe the marine life at the Jetty.

There should be no need for divers to be given exclusive access to any significant areas away from the Observatory if that requires the exclusion of other users from areas such as the end of the jetty.

The State has provided divers with an exclusive dive site nearby by sinking the "Swan" in the area, and there is now a plan to sink another ship as a dive site near Bunbury as part of the extensive West Coast Dive Park which contains many other dive sites.

In contrast, the Busselton jetty is one of the very few sites in WA where recreational anglers without boats can fish in comfort and safety into deep water. If the end of the jetty is closed to anglers, there isn't another equivalent jetty they can use, whereas there are many other dive sites available.

Contribution by anglers to the restoration of the jetty.

Since the jetty was damaged by Cyclone Alby about twenty five years ago, anglers have been a major group advocating its repair and retention. They have put substantial sums of money in to contribute towards this goal.

We are surprised at the number of anglers who have told us of their involvement and generosity towards the repair of the jetty, and the locations they come from throughout the State. Visiting recreational anglers contribute significantly to the economy of the Busselton area through their holidays in the area.

The State has also made significant contributions to the repair of the Jetty from taxpayers' funds through the Government's Regional Infrastructure Fund. The jetty is thus an asset which belongs to the whole community. It needs to be accessible to as many of the user groups as possible.

The Association encourages the decision making groups to respect the needs of recreational anglers when making a decision on the Jetty's future, and to bear in mind anglers' contribution in the past, both directly and via community funds, and what anglers will contribute in the future.

Litter.

The Association is aware of publications which have reported that the amount of litter on the sea bed at the end of the jetty has reduced since access has been disrupted, and use that to justify continued bans on fishing. Some litter may be the result of accidentally dropping items while fishing, and some may be due to wind blowing items off the jetty.

Recreational anglers are not the only source of litter, although it is agreed they are likely to be the main source of litter at places where they are the main users. Littering is a social problem whenever some people do not respect the environment and do not follow common courtesy of respecting community property.

The fact that there will always be some small percentage of people who will litter, despite all the publicity and education and laws, should never be used as an excuse to limit use and access by the majority of people who will act responsibly, and who will treat the environment very well.

Banning an activity as a means of controlling a social problem is taking the easy way out, but is not equitable and is not always effective, since it makes the responsible people into rule breakers, and the irresponsible people take no notice anyway.

The Association believes a combination of education and enforcement of existing laws should be used so that those that do litter and are caught will pay a price, preferably high enough so that it makes them do the right thing in future.

Summary.

The Association:-

1. wants anglers to have access to a reasonable area at the end of the jetty for recreational fishing and to enhance their recreational fishing experience.

2. supports a reasonably sized fishing exclusion zone around the observatory, providing that does not prevent fishing at the end of the jetty as in point 1.

3. endorses sharing the jetty, a community owned asset, equitably among all user groups.

4. supports education and enforcement to contain any impact such as litter resulting from the use of the jetty by the general public and by recreational anglers.

This submission has been prepared for the Association by Terry Fuller, who can be contacted on 08 9447 4545 if there are any questions.

Yours sincerely

Australian Anglers Association (WA Division) Inc.

13 May 2003.

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This page last updated 15 May 2003.