Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Fishcare Volunteers

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:04): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the important role that Fishcare volunteers play in helping to protect our marine resources?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:04): I thank the member for this important question. We all know how important volunteers are to our community. Fishcare volunteers play an important role in ensuring South Australia's oceans, rivers and lakes are managed sustainably for future generations. Right now, Fishcare volunteers are being sought in the Riverland to join the program which helps recreational fishers understand fishing rules and management arrangements.

Fishcare volunteers interact directly with recreational fishers and share information about a range of subjects, including up-to-date advice and assistance to the fishing public, educating recreational fishers about fishing rules and regulations, handing out educational material and attending community events like the Riverland Field Days, where I understand current volunteers have given their time to talk with community members about their roles and about getting more people involved.

Fishcare volunteers are positioned right across South Australia and work in teams of at least two people anywhere that fishing activity takes place, such as jetties, beaches, ramps and rivers. Fishcare volunteers are distinguishable by their uniform marked with the Fishcare logo. However, it is important to note that, unlike fisheries officers, they do not have enforcement powers. Fishcare volunteers are an important part of a range of measures that are designed to keep the recreational fishing community informed, which in turn produces better outcomes for the sustainability of our fisheries.

The Fishwatch 24-hour hotline—free call 1800 065 522—is another important resource and is available anytime to report shark sightings or attacks, illegal fishing activities such as fishing in restricted or closed areas, taking protected species, exceeding daily limits, taking undersized fish, illegal sale of recreationally caught fish and use of illegal fishing gear, as well as anything else that a person may think important to report. Of course, our dedicated fisheries officers do an amazing job in protecting fish stocks, educating the public and prosecuting offences where it is required, amongst the many other duties they perform.

Fishcare volunteers, the Fishwatch hotline and our fisheries officers all have a crucial role in what should be a shared goal across all parts of the community to have sustainable and healthy fish stocks. The common theme is educating the fishing public, because the only other role that is just as important as those I have mentioned is shared by the many tens of thousands of people in our state who fish recreationally, who do the right thing and are keen to better understand the small part that they have to play in ensuring future generations can enjoy fishing as we do today.

I would really like to thank and acknowledge the amazing Fishcare volunteers for the work that they do providing a great service to the public and taking such an interest in protecting fish stocks and our marine environment. If anyone would like to encourage others to join, people need to be at least 18 years old, have an interest in conserving our fisheries resources, be willing to help provide information to the recreational fishing community and be able to give at least 50 hours of time per year. I encourage such people to apply online to become a Fishcare volunteer through the link on the PIRSA website. Your work will be invaluable.