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Australian Anglers Association, (WA Division) Inc.



Follow up Submission on "Filleting at Sea" Rules.



The Australian Anglers Association sent a letter to Minister for Fisheries about the Definition of Fillets in Possession Limits, and Filleting of Fish at Sea. We finally received a reply from the Minister for Fisheries which has shown that the Fisheries Department has ignored some of the important issues we raised.

We aren't happy with that reply and with some of the recently announced regulations, some of which are different from what was covered by the public discussions and comments. We have obtained a copy of the new regulations, etc, and have drafted 3 detailed replies pointing out many of the problems with the regulations and the reply signed by the Minister.

These cover Limits On shore fishing on Rottnest Island Rules , Filleting and WholeFish Rules , and Filleting At Sea Rules.

This is the Filleting of Fish at Sea reply. Bear with it, it's long, but that's so (hopefully) it covers all the points and doesn't get misunderstood like the first letter did. We are looking for YOUR support and comments. If it's worth having, it's worth working for!!!!!!!

28 October 2003

The Honourable Kim Chance, MLC,
Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
11th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
West Perth 6005

Dear Mr Chance

Filleting of Fish at Sea.

Thank you for the reply dated 30 September to our letter of 31 July. Your reply raises several issues which we will cover in separate letters, and in this one we ask that the regulations be changed to allow filleting at sea.

Topics raised in our letter.

Our previous letter had two distinct and quite separate parts, which we believe is quite evident in both the layout and the wording of our letter.

The second part of our letter sought a change to the rules about filleting at sea. Despite your reply saying, "will answer your issues in the order raised", the reply you have signed has mixed up these two parts. We disagree with many of the statements in your reply as detailed below.

Filleting at Sea.

There are several sub issues all covered under this general heading resulting from the "filleting at sea" regulations.

Possession limits at sea.

Your reply contains a statement which do not appear to agree with statements made by Fisheries officers at the briefing given to Recfishwest Board members, and with Department of Fisheries publications. Your reply states:- "Once fish have been filleted at sea they will fall within the weight possession limit of 20kg of fillets or 10kg of fillets, plus one day's bag limit if people choose to keep some fish whole." This approach is logical and we agree.

However the West Coast Region Recreational Fishing Guide clearly states under "No filleting at sea...trip longer than 48 hours... Two pieces of fish (except 'trunks' which are deemed to be 'whole fish') will be considered to equal one whole fish and all fillets will be considered category one fish for the purposes of bag limit checks."

These two statements are contradictory. If the people who prepare letters for you to sign are confused and make misleading statements in Department of Fisheries publicity, how can they expect the recreational fishing public to understand and comply with these rules?

The only time that two fillets/pieces of fish should be counted as one whole fish would be where it is clear that only one (or two) day's fishing is involved and thus where only one (or two) day's bag limit is allowed, and where bag limits override the fillet weight limit. For three or more days fishing, the angler must be allowed to use the fillet option.

The implications of statement in the Guide is that the Department of Fisheries has attempted to remove the option of 20kg of fillets for offshore trips longer than 2 days, and they still wish to conduct a bag limit check by counting two fillets as one whole fish.

If your reply is correct, then we accept this interpretation as a consistent use of the terms "fillets" and "whole fish", however that requires the Department of Fisheries publications to be withdrawn and rewritten for clarification. If the interpretation in the Guide is claimed to be correct, we challenge that interpretation and there are some further issues we wish to raise here.

Identification of fillets.

1. Regulation 16B (1) says:- "Despite regulation 14, a person may be in possession of, or bring ashore, a fillet of fish in a boat in WA waters if
(a) the person has been at sea, or on any island within WA waters, continuously for at least 48 hours without returning to the mainland;
(b) the skin and scales are attached to each fillet;
(c) each fillet is at least 300 mm in length;
(d) each fillet is individually packaged flat;
(e) each fillet is packaged so that it is easily accessible for measurement and identification; and
(f) where the fish is frozen, it can be measured and identified without being thawed."


Why are the requirements (b), (d), (e) and (f) included and contain the words "and identified" if these will not allow the Department of Fisheries inspectors to identify fillets to decide what species these are, and would therefore be able to decide which category they are from?

2. Regulation 180 (2) says "A fillet of fish the species of which is not readily identifiable is to be taken to be from a category 1 fish in the absence of proof to the contrary." We note the words "readily identifiable"

The statement in the Guide about category 1 fish does not represent the wording of the Regulation, and is misleading in a way which discourages people from retaining the fish which they are entitled to under the bag and possession limits. We are very concerned that Fisheries publications misrepresent the regulations when there is ample unused space in the same column on the pamphlet which would allow the essential few extra words to be added and remove that misrepresentation.

For the guidance of our Association members and the fishing public generally, we ask for more information about what is meant by "readily identifiable", and for the Department of Fisheries to provide a list of species from category one for which fillets with skin and scales on, and with a minimum length of 300 mm could be confused with species from categories two and three.

We also ask the Department of Fisheries to describe in sufficient details how they will apply the "absence of proof to the contrary" part of this regulation, and how this fits in with the identification from fillets.

We require this information so that our members can process their fish in ways which will not leave them in any perceived breach of possession limits through any limitations in the resources, abilities or willingness of Fisheries Inspectors to take reasonable steps to identify fish species. This is particularly important with the recent addition of extra inspectors from other departments.

Requirements for logs if filleting at sea after 48 hours or more.

Regulations 16B(3) and (4) deal with a log that is required to be kept by a person on a boat at sea or on any island for a period of more than 48 hours and who wishes to land filleted fish. We feel that these regulations are fine examples of bureaucratic nonsense that serve no real purpose. We cannot understand the reason for these regulations.

Fish in possession on a boat (or on an Island) no matter where or when caught are all included in possession limits. Having to keep the log in such detail and for such periods as required would certainly be open to omissions and almost impossible to verify. The prime fact of time at sea could be easily verified by other sources if required.

This regulation also brings about some unintended problems, for example its application to people who travel by public ferry and fish from the shore at Rottnest, as covered in a separate letter.

Heading and tailing of fish at sea.

The regulations allow filleting of long pelagics such as mackerel and tuna at sea even on short trips. We also note that your reply contains the words "once a fish has been landed, its head and tail may be removed,"

We take this to mean that such fish may not be headed and tailed while at sea or on an island even for trips longer than 48 hours.

If this interpretation is correct, we are at a loss to understand why.

Filleting is allowed for long pelagics on short trips, and for all larger fish on trips in excess of 48 hours, yet the simple removal of heads or tails is not allowed.

The distinction between filleting and heading and tailing is simply not logical nor defensible, and is another example of the confused and unnecessarily complicated approach in these regulations.

For bag and size limit assessment purposes, filleting of long pelagics leaving on pectoral fins is exactly the same as heading and tailing a fish leaving on pectoral fins. We would submit that heading and tailing is actually better for bag and size limit assessment, and should be encouraged and not discouraged by the Department of Fisheries. Once again, we ask for a choice of alternative methods.

We ask that heading and tailing be allowed at sea.

Filleting exemptions for long pelagics.

The regulation allowing filleting exemption for mackerel and tuna is based on the species, not on fillet length or fish size. As such it does not give equivalent catch care for other large species or individual fish, despite as we understand it the intention being catch care balanced against compliance issues. The Department of Fisheries Guide talks of "long pelagics, such as mackerel and tuna".

We therefore ask for this exemption to apply to fish based on size rather than be limited to specific species, and ask for this regulation to be changed, please.

Filleting restrictions on species without size limit.

We can understand that there could be some reasons given for some limitations of filleting at sea where these apply to species with size limits. However we are at complete loss to understand the rationale for applying these to fish without any size limits such as herring.

We ask once again for the regulations to be changed so that limits on filleting at sea do not apply to fish without size limits.

Catch care and filleting on boats.

Your reply says "I am advised that in reality very few anglers process their catch prior to landing due to concerns about product quality, and the safety and hygiene issues associated with filleting in boats." We wonder if this advice covers larger fish which are the subject of the questions we have raised about catch care where storage is a problem.

One survey on the Western Angler Forum received 16 answers about filleting at sea. 9 did fillet, 6 did not, saying they had large ice boxes or usually took short trips, 7 said they wanted the choice, including 2 of the "did not fillet" responses. The majority said either they did fillet, or wanted the choice. One reply said many people in the north of the State do indeed fillet on a boat and are unhappy with the new regulations. This will need to be considered in the Pilbara/Kimberley reviews.

The replies showed a good understanding of the issues affecting quality of whole and processed fish, and most wanted to have a choice of alternative methods which can all provide excellent quality, with the differences being due mainly to personal preferences and the facilities available to them.

As with all safety issues, the decision must be made by the person themselves considering the conditions and their skills. There will be many times when safety is not an issue and again, anglers want to have a choice.

Cleaning Stations and Disposal of offal.

Your reply says "Many Shire Councils now provide fish cleaning stations and rubbish removal services at key boat ramps". We believe this statement is incorrect, and that some cleaning stations are a distinct health hazard, and would not be used.

Fish cleaning stations are not provided at Hillarys, Ocean Reef, Two Rocks (bin provided), Cockburn, Palm Beach, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton, or Dunsborough boat ramps. The metropolitan area and South West areas, where a large number of boat trips occur, are not actually provided with fish cleaning facilities.

A survey in the Western Angler Forum received a range of answers. Some said ramps in the South West mostly did not have cleaning tables. Some public and private cleaning tables were good, however some were completely unsuitable because of poor hygiene, which is partly a social problem, partly due to unsuitable facilites or maintenance, and partly inherent in outdoor cleaning facilities. CALM's policy on feeding wildlife has been in the news recently and prohibits feeding wildlife because this changes their natural habits. Sea birds are naturally attracted to fish cleaning activities and bins even if these are kept very clean and covered.

People raised the hygiene problems from bird droppings on the tables. The bacteria from droppings cannot all be removed by cold water washes, and people had concerns about letting their fish touch these surfaces.

One email described the fish cleaning table at Onslow as:-

"a disgrace and has always been so with the two wheely bins nearly always covered in maggots and rotting fish carcases and masses of blowflies which immediately descend on anyone attempting to clean their fish. In 2002 we went to the Shire offices three times during our stay to ask that the "facility" be cleaned and on the third visit we threatened that we would photograph the area and send the photos to the Health Department and it took this threat before it was cleaned up.

But having said that, the bins still "crawl" with blowflies and maggots and there is no short length of hose provided so that people cleaning their catch can use the tap to both clean down the table, which is covered with bird droppings as well as the debris from fish.... Anyone using this "facility" has to be a thrillseeker as far as his or her health is concerned."


We ask that the regulations be changed to allow filleting at sea.

Yours sincerely

Terry Fuller,

Secretary Australian Anglers Association (WA Division)

========

Please Note:- We encourage other people to have their say on important issues. If you find our submissions useful, you are allowed to use the information in them without seeking permission. All we ask is fair treatment, and that you acknowledge the Association and the actual source if you use or quote large parts of our submissions without putting the ideas into your own words.

Otherwise, please see our Copyright notice



Some of the Fish Resources Management Act Regulations.

3. Interpretation
(1) In these regulations, unless the contrary intention appears -
"fillet" in respect of fish -
(a) when used as a noun, means any part or piece of the fish, other than the head or tail of the fish or a product of gilling or gutting the fish; and
(b) when used as a verb, does not include to gill or gut the fish;

"whole fish" means a fish that is -
(a) entire; or
(b) entire except that it has been gilled or gutted, or both.

3A. Two fillets of fish to be taken to be one fish
For the purposes of these regulations, 2 single-sided fillets of fish are to be taken to be one fish. [Regulation 3A inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4285.]

14. Person on a boat not to be in possession of filleted fish - recreational fishing
(1) A person -
(a) on a boat must not be in possession of a fish other than a whole fish; or
(b) must not bring ashore a fish other than a whole fish.
(2) For the purposes of subregulation (1), the master of a boat on which there is a fish other than a whole fish is, in the absence of proof to the contrary, to be taken to be in possession of that fish.
(3) Subregulation (1) -
(a) does not apply to, and in respect of, fish taken for a commercial purpose in accordance with an authorisation; and
(b) is subject to regulations 15, 16, 16A, and 16B.
Penalty: $3 000 and the penalty provided in section 222 of the Act. [Regulation 14 inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4285-6.]

15. Exception to regulation 14 - mackerel and tuna Despite regulation 14, a person may be in possession of, or bring ashore, a fillet of mackerel or tuna of the Family Scombridae if -
(a) each fillet is taken from one side only of the fish; and
(b) the skin and pectoral fin are intact and attached to each fillet. [Regulation 15 inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4286.]

16. Exception to regulation 14 - shark Despite regulation 14, a person may be in possession of, or bring ashore
(a) a shark that -
(i) has been gutted;
(ii) has had its head, fins or tail removed; or
(iii) has been gutted and had its head, fins and tail, or any of those parts, removed;
or
(b) parts of a shark, but only if -
(i) all the parts of the shark; or
(ii) all the parts of the shark other than a part that may be removed under paragraph (a), are kept together and brought ashore together. [Regulation 16 inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4286-7.]

16A. Exception to regulation 14 - consumption of fish at sea. Despite regulation 14, a person may be in possession of a fillet of fish in a boat in WA waters if the fish is being prepared for immediate consumption on that boat. [Regulation 16A inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4287.]

16B. Exception to regulation 14 - extended trips
(1) Despite regulation 14, a person may be in possession of, or bring ashore, a fillet of fish in a boat in WA waters if -
(a) the person has been at sea, or on any island within WA waters, continuously for at least 48 hours without returning to the mainland;
(b) the skin and scales are attached to each fillet;
(c) each fillet is at least 300 mm in length;
(d) each fillet is individually packaged flat;
(e) each fillet is packaged so that it is easily accessible for measurement and identification; and
(f) where the fish is frozen, it can be measured and identified without being thawed.
(2) For the purposes of subregulation (1)(a), a person on a boat is to be taken to have been at sea, or on any island within WA waters, continuously for less than 48 hours without returning to the mainland in the absence of proof to the contrary.
(3) A person who undertakes a sea voyage referred to in subregulation (1)(a) and fishes while on that voyage is to keep a record of that voyage including details of -
(a) the place and time that the voyage commences;
(b) the period of time the boat is at sea without returning to the mainland;
(c) the route taken on the voyage;
(d) the places where the boat has stopped, and the dates of each stop and the length of time each stop has taken; and
(e) the place and time that the voyage ends.
(4) A person who undertakes a sea voyage referred to in subregulation (1)(a) must -
(a) record the details referred to in subregulation (3) during the sea voyage;
(b) keep a record made under this regulation for a period of 6 months after the voyage has ended; and
(c) not make an entry or statement that is false or misleading in a material particular in a record kept under this regulation.
Penalty: $5 000. [Regulation 16B inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4287-8.]

16D. Possession limits generally for finfish - recreational fishing
(1) For the purposes of section 51(1) of the Act, the maximum quantity of finfish that a person may be in possession of, other than at the person's principal place of residence is -
(a) 20 kg of fillets of fish;
(b) 10 kg of fillets of fish and one day's bag limit of whole fish; or
(c) 2 days' bag limit of whole fish.
(2) This regulation is subject to regulations 16E(1), 16G, 16H, 16I, 16J, 16K and 16M.
[Regulation 16D inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4289-90.]

16E. Possession limits - on a boat
(1) For the purposes of section 51(1) of the Act, the maximum quantity of finfish that a person on a boat (unless the boat has been at sea, or on any island within WA waters, continuously for at least 48 hours without returning to the mainland) may be in possession of is one day's bag limit of fish.
(2) For the purposes of section 51(1) of the Act, the maximum quantity of fish of the species referred to in this subregulation that a master of a boat may be in possession of on that boat where it is being used by 2 or more persons for taking fish is -
(a) twice the bag limit of blue manna crabs;
(b) twice the bag limit of cuttlefish, octopus or squid;
(c) twice the bag limit of rock lobster; and
(d) twice the bag limit of brownlip or greenlip abalone.
(3) For the purposes of subregulation (2), the master of the boat on which fish are present is to be taken to be in possession of those fish.
(4) In any proceedings for an offence under section 51(2) of the Act in the circumstances referred to in subregulation (2) it is a
defence for the person charged to prove that the person was the master of a commercial passenger boat not used for fishing. [Regulation 16E inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4290.]

21. Presumptions regarding possession
(1) In any proceedings for an offence against section 51 of the Act, in the absence of proof to the contrary -
(a) subject to subregulation (2), a person using, or in control of, a vehicle in which fish are found is taken to be in possession of the fish; and
(b) a person using or in control of a refrigerator, freezer, icebox, or other storage device in which fish are found is taken to be in possession of the fish.
(2) In any proceedings for an offence against section 51 of the Act, a person who provides payment to a courier business in consideration for the transportation of fish, is to be taken to be in possession of the fish until the fish are actually in the possession of the person to whom the fish are being transported.
(3) In this regulation -
"courier business" means a business that -
(a) has an established place of business; and
(b) carries on the business of transporting freight. [Regulation 21 inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4298-9.]
Division 4 - Labelling of fish [Heading inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4299.]

22. Labelling of fish
(1) A person who packages or stores fish -
(a) other than at the person's principal place of residence; or
(b) at the person's principal place of residence if that place is in -
(i) the Exmouth townsite, as referred to in regulation 16K(2); or
(ii) Ningaloo Marine Park Land Zone, as referred to in regulation 16K(2),
must ensure that a label, as described in subregulation (2), is securely attached to each package containing fish and to each fish that is stored other than in a package.
Penalty: $5 000 and the penalty provided in section 222 of the Act.
(2) For the purposes of subregulation (1) a label must -
(a) be not less than 75 millimetres in length and 25 millimetres in width;
(b) have legibly written on it the full name of the owner of the fish or package to which the label is attached; and
(c) be attached to the fish or package in such a manner that it is clearly visible for inspection.
(3) Subregulation (1) does not apply to, and in respect of -
(a) fish taken for a commercial purpose by a person in accordance with an authorisation;
(b) fish kept, bred, hatched or cultured by the person in accordance with an aquaculture licence; or
(c) fish of the Family Atherinidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae or Hemirhamphidae.
(4) For the purposes of subregulation (1), a person using or having control of -
(a) a vehicle in which fish is present; or
(b) a refrigerator, freezer, icebox, or other storage container in which fish is present,
is, in the absence of proof to the contrary, to be taken to have packaged or stored the fish.
(5) In this regulation -
"package" means any type of wrapping, package, or container;
"store", in relation to fish, includes the act of placing in a refrigerator, freezer, icebox, or other storage container.
[Regulation 22 inserted in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4299-300.]

180. Categories of fish
(1) For the purposes of the Act, a species of fish referred to in Schedule 4 is a species of fish of the category referred to in the heading below which it appears.
(2) A fillet of fish the species of which is not readily identifiable is to be taken to be from a category 1 fish in the absence of proof to the contrary.
[Regulation 180 amended in Gazette 1 Oct 2003 p. 4328.]

Please Note:- We encourage other people to have their say on important issues. If you find our submissions useful, you are allowed to use the information in them without seeking permission. All we ask is fair treatment, and that you acknowledge the Association and the actual source if you use or quote large parts of our submissions without putting the ideas into your own words.

Otherwise, please see our Copyright notice






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This page last updated 8 December 2003.