The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc. (AFANT) has been working behind the scenes in an attempt to resolve the issues at the centre of the Finniss River closure. Over recent weeks AFANT has had discussions with all parties involved including some of the traditional owners, the Northern Land Council and the Northern Territory Government.
While we fully understand the level of concern and angst that the Finniss River closure has caused many recreational anglers, AFANT would encourage calm and respect in any commentary as we believe that there is still an opportunity for this and other intertidal water areas to be resolved to ensure permit free access across the NT to recreational anglers.
AFANT is concerned with the apparent breakdown in the negotiations which led to the Finniss River closure and we are prepared if required, to assist in bringing the party’s back to the table.
AFANT has been informed by the Minister William Westra van Holthe, that he intends to become more directly involved in the negotiations and will keep AFANT informed on the status of those negotiations.
The Minister has written to AFANT requesting that AFANT not approach or attempt to become directly involved in the Finniss River or other Blue Mud Bay negotiations unless requested by the government.
While we are extremely disappointed with the closure of the upper tidal reaches of the Finniss River we believe that with an element of good will from the TO’s, recreational fishers and real involvement at higher levels of government, there is an opportunity to re-engage and resolve the issues and to get the area reopened to recreational fishers.
AFANT understands that the main issues of concern which has led to the closure by the traditional owners are non-fishing related and involve illegal activities on Aboriginal land including quad bikes, trespass and hunting and shooting livestock and crocodiles.
AFANT asks all fishers to respect the closure and give the government and the TO’s time to resolve the issue. For more information on the areas in question please refer to the NLC http://www.nlc.org.au/media-releases/article/upper-finniss-river-update/ or the NT Government http://www.fishing.nt.gov.au/ websites.
AFANT understands that there is some concern around the precise boundary between some traditional owners within the Delissaville/Wagait/Larrakia Aboriginal Land Trust which is at the centre of the closure line on the tidal sections of the Finniss River.
It is now fully up to Minister William Westra van Holthe and the Government to deliver on the agreement and resolve this complex issue. AFANT will reassess our position and the governments progress over the coming weeks and will pass on any information to members as it comes to hand on the Finniss River closure and other Blue Mud Bay issues.