Communique 20 August 2020

The Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme Working Group (the Working Group) met for an extraordinary meeting, via teleconference due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, on the 20th of August 2020.

Role of the SIPS Working Group: The SIPS Working Group provide advice to Fisheries Queensland on the guidelines and funding associated with the Stocked Impoundment Scheme (SIPS). The working group also provide advice on potential future enhancement to SIPS. The working group is a non-statutory advisory body. It is not a decision-making body.

Fisheries Queensland provided a general update on progress in the SIPS and freshwater fisheries program. It was noted that Tony Ham (Principal Manager, Trawl and Net Fisheries) has taken over the role of Chair of the Working Group.

The working group noted that there were significant spikes in revenue at the end of last financial year and the start of the 2020 financial year (sales have been up around $10,000-$20,000 a month) since state-based travel restrictions put in place for COVID-19 eased. It is hoped that this increased interest in fishing at SIPS impoundments will carry through once inter-state and international travel restrictions ease.

The Working Group was advised that the draft Stocking Policy has been open for comment since 1 July 2020. Fisheries Queensland advised that there has been limited responses to date, and all groups and individuals are encouraged to provide feedback before it closes for consultation on 31 August 2020.

The working group noted that the existing SIPS Guidelines are due for renewal and to bring them in line with current Queensland Government financial and governance requirements. Fisheries Queensland are working on a renewed guideline which combines all existing guidelines into a single document. It is intended that this will be released for consultation.  The main points of the guideline are to:

  • Update the carryover guidance to improve clarity of requirements;
  • Incorporate the previously discussed changes to the alternative use of funding;
  • Align dates for the submission of acquittals, carryover requests, and applications for community engagement and disaster relief funding to simplify administration requirements; and
  • Include principles, process and requirements to be met for allocation of SIPS funds each year.

Once approved, the guideline would be the basis for all decision making under the SIPs Scheme.  The guideline would be reviewed from time to time to ensure it keeps pace with best practice managements, community expectations and governance requirements. Other documents to be reviewed and incorporate include the previously proposed guideline for adding and removing SIPS impoundments and the Terms of Reference for the SIPS Working Group.

The Working Group also discussed the current process of rotating members. In line with other fishery working groups, Fisheries Queensland recommended this process be a biennial process, meaning every two years there would be a nomination process to appoint members for two years, with the option for some members to be renewed for a further term to provide continuity.  This will be incorporated into the single SIPS Guideline.

There was an additional discussion about GST registration for SIPS groups. The working group supported a view that groups that receive more than $2,000 in SIPS revenue should be GST registered. This will be considered as part of the update to the SIPS Guidelines.

Fisheries Queensland presented the working group with an overview of the proposed Monitoring Guideline for Stocked Impoundments. The working group were comfortable with the overall direction of the guideline. A first draft has been prepared and consultation will initially begin with the working group. Members also discussed two options for pursuing a monitoring app for use in stocked impoundments to assist clubs in meeting monitoring requirements.  Further discussions will continue on this topic.

The Working Group noted that there are ongoing discussions on the 2021-2022 Stocking Workshop. Fisheries Queensland advised that it remains subject to COVID-19 requirements and if delivered in mid to late 2021 would be held in regional Queensland.

The working group also noted that Fisheries Queensland has committed budget and resources to undertake additional engagement prior to the 2021 Angler Participation Survey to encourage better uptake of the survey. This includes additional time (one month) to respond to the survey and improved messaging to encourage fishers to register their e-mail with their SIPS permit.  It was also noted that some technical fixes were required to avoid e-mail congestion and bounce backs as much as possible.

It was noted that there has been some interest from both Hatcheries and Stocking Groups in improving cross communication. There was a general discussion about ways to improve this. Fisheries Queensland does maintain a list of hatcheries with a development approval on the Department’s website. FFSAQ will share this link in their regular correspondence.

The creation of material for a SIPS Fishing Trail was discussed by the Working Group. The scheme received a significantly larger than expected sale of SIPS permits during June. This resulted in the need to execute an additional grant in order to disperse all SIPS revenue before the end of financial year. This SIPS Fishing Trail grant will provide benefit to all stocking groups state-wide and is aimed at growing participation to increase revenue received by the program. Increased participation and promotion of the SIPS scheme has been a key focus of the Working Group and Fisheries Queensland for some time.

Fisheries Queensland will work with FFSAQ on this project and there will be opportunities for input from the working group as well as individual stocking groups. The aim of this project is to increase uptake of SIPS fishing, particularly in rural and regional Queensland from the traveling public and assist fishers to get the best out of their time at SIPS dams. It is anticipated that this guide will be available in print and electronic media. Fisheries will send out a request shortly for information from clubs to form the basis of the guide.

One of the members provided a presentation to the working group on the monitoring and fish aggregating structure (FAS) work being undertaken on North Pine Dam. There was also a general discussion on how this work could be adopted in other locations. Fisheries noted that the current research projects into the design and use of freshwater FAS’s were continuing, and that expansion of the FAS program would be contingent on the outcomes of this research.

The SIPS Working Group members are: Tony Ham (Chair, Fisheries Queensland), Thomas Hart (Representative, Fisheries Queensland), Charlie Ladd (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland), Joe Legrady (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland), Garry Fitzgerald (Member, South East), Noel Frost (Member, South East.), Bob Reid (Member, Murray Darling), Greg Green (Member, Burnett), Daryl Cupitt (Member, Central), Terry McGeachin (Member, Northern), Ian Leighton (Member, Northern).