Communique 23 April 2018

The SIPS Working Group met for its annual meeting in Brisbane on the 23 April 2018.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy and proposed legislation changes to the Fisheries Act 1994. The working group was advised that communiques from each meeting will be posted online and through Facebook to keep all stakeholders up to date on what’s happening.

The working group was unsure how the funding, collected through the recreational use fee (RUF) on boating registration, was currently being used. A number of working group members believed that a recreational fishing licence would help enhance freshwater fishing in Queensland. Fisheries Queensland advised that it receives approximately $5 million from the RUF each year, with funds going into the fisheries management and compliance. The working group noted that the Queensland Government does not currently support a recreational fishing licence.

The working group welcomed the new SIPS webpage to help encourage fishers to participate in the SIPS scheme. The working group recommended the webpage link to buy a permit be amended to include the word ‘fishing’ so there is no confusion about the type of permit. Fisheries Queensland also provided an update on SIPS revenue to date, activities to promote SIPS, three new videos on SIPS being released, updates to the permit sales system and SIPS policies.

Fisheries Queensland sought feedback on the proposed phase out of the iPad agents to focus on improving the purchase of permits through Australia Post stores and online. The working group noted the potential savings and supported the approach. They also suggested small businesses, like tackle shops and tourist parks, could assist customers via their own computers or tablets in return for a link to their business on the SIPS webpage.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the SIPS acquittals for the 2017 grants. The working group notes a number of carry over applications which were supported. The working group noted that Fisheries Queensland will adjust the grant process by deferring part of the June SIPS revenue each year to improve the allocation process, rather than having to readjust grants early in the new financial year. The working group supported the process and deferral of $55 000 to the next financial year.

Fisheries Queensland advised that over 3300 people completed the survey of SIPS permit holders was conducted in March 2018 to gain a better understanding of where people fish. The working group then considered a number of allocation models for the 2018 grants. After discussion the working group recommended amending last year’s formula so it’s based on 50 per cent allocated by surface area capped at 4000 hectares and 50 per cent allocated by the SIPS permit holder participation rate at dams and weirs. It also continues the minimum $500 allocation, fishing area available and a maximum of 70 per cent of total stocking allocation from SIPS.

The working group recommended the allocation for recovery fund be limited to extreme stocked fish kills with supporting evidence of such events. The working group supported allocating funding for the Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland (FFSAQ) to continue to provide education on freshwater fishing, stocking and pest fish. The working group recommended that FFSAQ look at expanding their program to include Central and Northern Queensland next year. The working group also supported funding a Mary River Cod workshop in South East Queensland to improve understanding, stocking and conservation of this important species for Queensland. All applications for marketing items will be referred back to stocking groups to apply for ‘alternative use’ from their SIPS grant funding. Fisheries Queensland has agreed to organise a state-wide stocking workshop, in October 2018, with the remaining community engagement funding to bring stocking groups together to improve the SIPS program, share learnings and develop expertise within stocking groups.

Fisheries Queensland gave an update on the Murry Darling Basin Authority funded FishGen Project to collect genetic material to identify stocked versus wild stocks of Murry Cod. Information was also provided on a FRDC funded Fish Attracting Device/Habitat Project at Cressbrook Dam aimed at enhancing fishing in SIPS impoundments. The working group welcomed these projects to gain a better understanding of the impacts of stocking and how habitat or fish attracting devices could improve the recreational fishing experience on SIPS impoundments.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) provided an update on SIPS compliance. Key issues are customers not able to produce permits for inspection and incorrect size and possession limits on stocking group web pages. The working group recommended that information be sent to stocking groups advising them to link to Fisheries Queensland’s webpage for all fishing rules. Updating education materials would also help people understand the rules.

The working group discussed developing a long term vision of SIPS to align with the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. To start the process the working group identified the following issues and potential solutions:

  • Improved monitoring of impoundments – We know the number of fish going into our impoundments but we do not have good information on the fish coming out. Being able to identify stocked fish versus wild fish and the impacts of stocking. Improving habitat and using of fish attracting devices (FADs) to improve user satisfaction through improved catch rates. Options include expanding the keen angler and boat ramp survey programs to impoundments with stocking group members assisting.
  • Identified a need to attract younger members and get them involved in fish stocking to ensure the future of stocking groups and the SIPS scheme. The working group recommended using social media more and running a ‘join a stocking group’ promotion where members could get a discount on their SIPS permit, increased SIPS grant allocation or vouchers from tackle stores that sponsor the program.
  • Consider moving to a SIPS grant allocation process that factors in each impoundments harvest methods (i.e. catch and release versus retaining fish). The survey of SIPS permit holders conducted in 2018 indicates that the majority of fish are released with a trend of increasing harvest (take) the further you move away from the east coast of Queensland.
  • Improved education including the benefit of taking fish based on each impoundment stocking program.
  • Considering specific fishing rules for impoundments. The working group noted that Fisheries Queensland would consider this as part of the Fisheries Regulation review in 2019, but that no decisions have been made.
  • Better options to carry permits while fishing, including better use of technology.

The SIPS Working Group members are: Kimberly Foster (Chair, Fisheries Queensland), Steve Brooks (Representative, Fisheries Queensland), Daniel Smith (Representative, Fisheries Queensland), Robin Caddy (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland) Joe LeGrady (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland), Garry Fitzgerald (Member, South East), Trevor Saunders (Member, South East. Apology for meeting), Bob Reid (Member, Murray Darling), Daryl Cupitt (Member, Central), Terry McGeachin (Member, Northern), Ian Leighton (Member, Northern).