A short wander around Perth's plethora of fishing forums will show you that local anglers aren't happy with the levels of compliance checks being undertaken by the Department of Fisheries. It's not that they're being checked too often though, it's that they're not being checked enough.
Statements, outbursts and discussions regarding undersized fish or oversized bags being taken by other recreational fishers appear more regularly than Bert Newton on afternoon television.
These concerns were justified yesterday (25 June) with the tabling of a report in the State Parliament by the Office of the Auditor General looking at compliance levels in Western Australia's commercial and recreational fisheries.
Amongst other things the report highlights that while the number of recreational anglers detected breaking the law is up 53% and in the commercial sector down 54%, Fisheries compliance activity hasn't altered to account for this change in direction.
The Auditor's summary of the report as as follows:
|COMPLIANCE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL FISHERIES |
Practically all commercial and recreational fishing is managed under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, its subsidiary Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995 and a variety of management plans, orders and notices. The Department of Fisheries administers this legislation and manages the state's fisheries. Sustainable fisheries management and balancing the different requirements of the commercial, recreational and indigenous sectors requires sound research, effective compliance planning and enforcement.
The objective of the examination was to determine the effectiveness of the Department's commercial and recreational fishing compliance model. Our focus was on enforcement activities carried out by the Department in 2008-09 and enforcement performance data since 2002-03. Specifically, we examined whether the Department:
What the examination found...
- monitored, measured and reported on its enforcement activities
- had clear plans and targets for its enforcement program
- had effective policies and outcomes for its compliance activities.
We concluded that the Department commits considerable resources to its compliance and enforcement effort, including well trained, professional fisheries and marine officers. However, we found the Department is unable to demonstrate that it has an effective compliance program for WA's commercial and recreational fisheries. Specifically, we found:
- there has been an increase in detected illegal fishing in the recreational sector and a decrease in the commercial sector since 2002-03. Compliance activity over this period has remained relatively constant
- the Department's compliance program and planning is not clearly linked to a state-wide assessment of risk. Approximately one quarter of compliance activities are directed at six fisheries under an agreement with commercial license holders while the remaining effort targets the other 44 managed fisheries, about one-third of which have been assessed for risk
- the Department's enforcement activity covers less than five per cent of total fishing activity, but they have yet to determine what represents an effective level of compliance effort
- the Department's information systems do not support effective monitoring or reporting of compliance activities and results.
The above text and full report can be found at the Office of the Auditor General
- scroll to the bottom of the page.