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Australian Anglers Association, (WA Division) Inc.



Follow up Submission on "Filleting and Whole Fish" 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 & WholeFish Rules, and Filleting At Sea Rules

This is the Filleting and WholeFish Rules 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

Fillets and "Whole" Fish in Possession Limits.

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 large fish to be cut into two pieces.

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 first part of our letter sought to clarify the definitions of "fillets" versus "whole" fish which is a separate issue to where the fillets may legally be processed. It then further sought a concession to allow large whole fish to be cut into two (or perhaps three) pieces.

The second part of our letter sought a change to the rules about filleting at sea, which we will cover in a separate letter.

Despite your reply saying, "will answer your issues in the order raised", the reply you have signed has mixed up these two parts.

Use of "Fillets" and "Whole" Fish.

In all of the discussions on possession limits, we always understood that there would be three options available to the recreational angler, and that the angler himself had the choice of which option would apply. The options are described in all Fisheries literature as (1) 20 kg of fillets, or (2) one day's bag limit of whole fish plus 10 kg of fillets, or (3) two day's bag limit of whole fish.

As a matter of principle and simplicity, we would expect that all parts of fish classed as "fillets" would be counted in the weight options for possession limits, and all parts of fish classed as "whole" fish would be counted in the whole fish option.

The challenge for the regulations is to have suitable definitions which make this possible. Anything else is semantic nonsense which makes the rules unnecessarily complicated, and takes away options which were understood would always be available for anglers to choose for themselves.

It appears to us that one major problem is that the regulations mix up fillets and whole fish. Regulation 3A is headed "Two fillets of fish to be taken to be one fish" yet states "For the purposes of these regulations, 2 single-sided fillets of fish are to be taken to be one fish." and this regulation has been misrepresented and incorrectly applied with unwanted consequences.

Heading and Tailing.

Your reply included a discussion of "....a problem where someone removes the head and tail from two fish and is left with two whole trunks of fish which would be classified as one fish". We disagree with that statement, because the regulations also contain a definition:- "single-sided fillet" means a fillet that is taken from one side only of a fish. Therefore whole trunks of fish do not meet the definition of a single sided fillet, and two of them cannot be considered as one fish.

In any case, this reply appears to be discussing a previous presumed loophole which would have been the direct result of the absence (at that time) of a suitable overriding definition of "whole" fish, followed by the incorrect application of the badly worded regulation which classes two particular types of "pieces of fish" as one whole fish.

The regulations now contain a definition of "whole" fish, so this presumed loophole is no longer available, and any discussion of this loophole as a reason for any other restrictions is historical and completely irrelevant to the current situation, and we can only wonder why this was raised at all, except to further demonstrate the confusion surrounding the regulations even within the Department of Fisheries.

Your reply advises "To rectify this situation.....its head and tail may be removed.....". From the wording of your reply, it appears that the change is a workaround for the presumed loophole and not a response to the logic of allowing heads and tails to be removed.

Nevertheless, this reply clarifies the situation and answers one part of our questions, and we thank you for this. We still have concerns about when heading and tailing is allowed, which we will cover elsewhere.

Cutting large fish into two pieces.

In the first part of our previous letter, we asked:- "Fish or "bodies" which have been cut in two or three pieces to still be considered as "whole" fish, to allow storage in ice boxes or freezers."

Your reply said "Allowing fish to be processed into a number of pieces and still called "whole fish" would make enforcing bag and possession limits very difficult, and where people are sharing containers to store fish it would be virtually impossible."

Our original request was to allow the cutting of large fish into two or three pieces, in the context of anglers being away from home and being unable to fit anything other than small to medium whole fish into storage. This will only apply to a small percentage of the total fish caught and kept and which have to be checked by Department of Fisheries inspectors.

We did not ask that small fish be allowed to be cut up, however if we contributed to any misunderstanding we have now clarified this.

We are extremely disappointed that you did not offer a compromise of allowing the cutting of large fish into a maximum of two pieces, each required to be of some significant minimum length, in exactly the same way as the current regulations have set a minimum length for fillets in some circumstances.

A minimum length would overcome any potential difficulties with calculating the number of fish involved, and avoid having a number of small parts of small fish. Any potential difficulties when people are sharing containers to store fish would apply whether the fish are in one or in two pieces, and are not a reason to prevent cutting large fish into two pieces, each of a significant minimum size.

We ask, therefore that the regulations be changed to allow large fish to be cut into two pieces.

Sharing Containers.

Your reply mentions problems when people share containers. We submit these have been exaggerated and are not an adequate reason for refusing our request. Any problems arising due to anglers sharing containers are already adequately covered by Regulation 22, Labelling of fish, and Regulation 21, Presumptions regarding possession. Labelling of stored fish is required, which will overcome any identification problems, and presumptions of possession will ensure either that limits are observed or the correct owner will be identified if the contents are over the limits.

We point out that your reply has now advised that the head and tail may be removed from a fish. Therefore the Department of Fisheries has already accepted any difficulties this may cause for identification and enforcing bag and possession limits, because inspectors will now have to handle trunks of fish (minus heads and tails). Having accepted this, it is difficult to see how Department of Fisheries can claim that cutting a large fish into a maximum of two pieces of some minimum length would cause any significant extra problems.

If the Department of Fisheries claim any difficulties in this, we would have serious concerns about their abilities to do their job effectively. We trust in the ability of fisheries inspectors to be able to count head and tail end parts of large fish, and to identify large head ends and tail ends which have come from the same species of fish. It is not necessary to match the head and tail end which have come from any one individual fish. It should only be necessary to identify how many fish were involved.

We would have no objection to regulations which count an unmatched single head end or a single tail end as one whole fish.

Without any extra problems, it is hard to understand the rejection of a reasonable request which meets the spirit of all the consultations and expectations about the type and nature of possession limits, and the ability of the angler to chose one of these and still maximise the quality of the fish kept.

There are currently no regulations which prevent shore based anglers from processing their fish immediately. They can even choose to fillet their fish provided they accept that this has the effect of choosing one of the weight based possession limits options.

The regulations do not prevent people from spreading their whole fish or their packed fillets into a number of different containers and sharing these containers with other people. Fisheries Inspectors have to handle this.

We ask, therefore that the regulations be changed to allow large fish to be cut into two pieces.

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 28 October 2003.