AFANT, the peak body representing the recreational fishing sector in the Territory has written to the major parties contesting the 2024 Northern Territory Election, seeking formal commitments on a range of policies and investments required to improve Territory liveability and the growth of our $270M industry. Over 30% of male and female adult Territorians go fishing, meaning up to 60,000 people and over 2,500 jobs could be impacted by the policies that the major parties bring to the 2024 election in August.

While the NT enjoys an enviable position as Australia’s top fishing jurisdiction, excellent fishing is not a lucky accident. Instead, great fishing is dependent on a range of policy settings, investment decisions, responses to challenges and changing situations (both local and external), and sometimes this requires decisive commitments to trade-offs. Changed circumstances in the barramundi fishery are an example of the latter, and policy reform in this area is seen as being foundational to the future growth and prosperity of our sector.

AFANT’s 2024 Election Policy Questionnaire is heavily informed by the NT Recreational Fishing Development Plan and the document details the opportunities and challenges facing the sector over the next four years. AFANT is asking the major parties to commit to a range of policies and strategic investments across seven key areas over the next term of government. These areas are; barramundi reform, fisheries management, access to fishing areas, development and infrastructure, industry and community support, water regulation, and environmental management.

Barramundi management reform is front and centre with AFANT seeking wholesale reform, including the phasing out of industrial scale, inshore gillnetting over the next four years. Reform should focus on safeguarding the future of recreational fishing and tourism, while providing opportunities for the development of Aboriginal fishing enterprises, maintaining a supply of premium barramundi for locals and visitors. This reform is seen as essential if the NT is to retain its status as the best place to fish for barramundi in the world, and to retain all of the economic and social benefits that this brings to the Territory.

The major parties have been given until July 24 to respond. AFANT will share the answers received with the recreational fishing community and industry members in the first week of August. The Election Policy Questionnaire can be found here

Quotes attributable to AFANT President Warren de With:

“It is essential that the parties contending to lead the Territory from August 2024 fully appreciate that great fishing is far from guaranteed, instead, it requires leaders to make, and then to deliver on commitments over a range of key policy areas.

“Barramundi management reform is front and centre of the commitments we are seeking, because ongoing uncertainty and failure to respond to the recent access changes that have seen too much gillnet being squeezed into key fishing areas poses a big threat to the NT’s status as the best place to go fishing in Australia.

“We have been working hard to inform both the current Government and the Opposition on the barramundi management issues, with countless meetings and conversations over the past few months. So, they’ll have no excuse if they fail to understand the genuine need for serious reform that government will inevitably have to address, regardless of which party is in power.”

Quotes attributable to AFANT CEO David Ciaravolo:

“Recreational fishing is a major industry in the Territory. Our sector contributed $270M to Northern Territory GDP in 2019 and supported 2,500 full-time jobs across a range of occupations. With the right policies and strategic investments, we hope to increase this contribution to $500M by 2030.

“Liveability is major concern at the 2024 election, and our great fishing is a lifestyle beacon, attracting people to make the NT their home. This needs to continue and to improve, to help deliver and retain the workforce the Territory will need to grow other key industries.

”AFANT understands there is no “typical” recreational fisher. There are, however, a range of specific policy decisions that will surely either impact, protect, or improve their fishing.

“We see our role as helping to inform the 60,000 adult Territorians who fish, as well as the many businesses in our industry, where each party stands on the issues important to their lifestyle and the future of our industry. We will never tell people how to vote, and we are committed to working with any future Government to ensure a bright fishing future for the Territory.”

Listen to AFANT CEO talking 2024 Election Policies with ABC Darwin's Adam Steer

by ABC Radio Darwin May 23, 2024

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