A major shake-up of the Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Council will see new members appointed to focus on delivering a long-term recreational fishing strategy for South Australia.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the Marshall Liberal Government wants to expand recreational fishing opportunities for South Australians to get outdoors and enjoy catching a fish.
"There are as many suggestions on how to improve recreational fishing experiences as there are fishers and it is vital to have a strong and effective advisory council providing representative advice on what the priorities are," Minister Basham said.
"Unfortunately, despite comprising democratically elected fishers and representatives of the major recreational fishing groups, the existing Minister's Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (MRFAC) has not enjoyed the support of all fishers over the past 18 months.
"I have now accepted resignations from the Council of the inaugural MRFAC chairman, Mr Graham Keegan, and respected Wallaroo fish and tackle shop owner Mr Brian Wheadon. These are the fifth and sixth members to resign from the MRFAC.
"On behalf of the government I thank both Mr Keegan and Mr Wheadon for their commitment to recreational fishing and for the work they have contributed to establishing the MRFAC, including the recent recreational fishing survey which received more than 4,000 responses from fishers statewide.
"It is disappointing to report that members of the MRFAC have been subjected to persistent bullying and intimidation, mostly online, almost since day one and I am advised this has been both an ongoing concern and a factor in all resignations of MRFAC members.
"The South Australian Government condemns all forms of bullying and I am taking steps to rebuild and strengthen the MRFAC and to protect members from online attacks.
"Firstly, I will be appointing an independent chair to the MRFAC who will chair meetings, act as the spokesperson for the Council and manage interactions between the MRFAC and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.
"Six new members will be appointed to join the remaining three elected members. The new members will be announced shortly and will serve until new MRFAC elections can be held late in 2021.
"RecFishSA have previously indicated a preference to be represented on the MRFAC once again and I am inviting the RecFishSA chairman, Mr Mick Wilson, to join the Council.
"Importantly, the new MRFAC will be tasked with developing and consulting fishers on a Recreational Fishing Strategy for South Australia for release prior to MRFAC elections next year.
Minister Basham said it is important the state's recreational fishers and key recreational fishing groups contribute positively and cooperatively to development of the fishing strategy if South Australia is to catch up to other states.
"Today represents an opportunity for a fresh start and I encourage the key recreational fishing groups to lay down their swords and commit to work with a new spirit of cooperation with each other and the MRFAC, on behalf of the members they represent, to develop the best possible plan for recreational fishing in this state," Minister Basham said.
The new look composition of the MRFAC:
- Independent chair
- three existing members, directly elected by public ballot of fishers in 2019 (Dave Scholefield, Peter Teakle, Amanda Whitehorn)
- RecFishSA chair
- Australian Fishing Trade Association nominee
- Four additional fishers appointed.