Recreational Fishing Haven to be reopened to pros?

ACCORDING to a report in this week's southern Sydney based community newspaper the Leader, commercial fishermen are making a strong push to be allowed back into historic Botany Bay - a waterway declared a recreational fishing haven in 2002.

According to the Leader, a report into NSW commercial fisheries policy and management released by Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson could pave the way for Botany Bay being reopened to commercial fishing.

The report criticises the way the previous Labor government went about establishing marine parks and recreational fishing havens, and called for the development of new resource-sharing principles and decision-making processes.

The Leader reports Ms Hodgkinson did not rule out commercial fishing returning to Botany Bay, saying only the government would work through the report's 22 recommendations over the next two months.

Fisho contacted the Minister's office to respond on whether or not the government is planning on re-opening Botany Bay (or any other of the current recreational fishing havens along the NSW coast) to commercial fishing operations.

"There are no plans to make any changes to the recreational fishing areas in NSW at this stage," was the response from Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson.

Botany Bay is a popular weekend destination for many of the 200-plus members of the South Sydney Fishing Club. The club's President Stan Konstantaras was heavily involved with negotiations that saw the waterway ultimately become a recreational fishing haven.

"It's turned out to be a very good thing, as Botany Bay has bounced back strongly since the commercials were removed," Konstantaras told Fisho today.

"It's become a special waterway for recreational fishing, with rampaging kingfish and jewies returning in good numbers.

"If they [the NSW Government] used the RFH to "sell" the licence at its inception and the commercial guys get back in, then its $4 m down the drain and I think we should all hand our licences back in," he says.

"Do we want the Bay to revert back to what it was? Absolutely not! The minister is just pitting rec anglers against the commercials here, and it is all about short term gains for the commercial sector who want back in at any cost," Konstantaras concludes.   

What do you think, should the ban on commercial fishing in Botany Bay be lifted?

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