The NSW Government has responded to community concern about the sustainable management of a precious shared resource, and amended bag limits for cockles.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall today announced that bag limits would be reduced to 20 per person per day to ensure balance between managing cockle numbers into the future while still providing a sustainable catch for recreational fishers.
“This reduction in bag limits is a timely response to an issue that has caused concern along our coastal communities, particularly in the Illawarra,” Mr Marshall said.
“Cockles are a shared resource that are harvested recreationally, commercially and for customary purposes, so we have to ensure their sustainability.
“I asked the Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee to consider the current bag limit and advise me on its appropriateness as a matter of priority. It is based upon their recommendation that the procession limit has been reduced from 50 to 20.
“While over-collection is an issue that had to be addressed, today’s announcement is not about Government walking around with a big stick, but rather working with community to meet their expectations.”
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward welcomed today’s announcement, and said that the changes to cockle bag limits would come into effect from October 14.
“The reduction in bag limits is an important step towards responding to community concerns, and is just one measure the NSW Government has implemented to address the over-collection of cockles,” Mr Ward said.
“NSW DPI Fisheries officers already work closely with recreational fishers to ensure compliance as they patrol Lake Illawarra, and last month began Operation Stingray 2 to crack down on cockle poaching.
“Those caught breaking the rules still face substantial penalties, including $500 on-the-spot fines, $200 for not paying the fishing fee, or a maximum penalty of $22,000 and/or six-month imprisonment.”
Over the past five years, fisheries officers have seized more than 100,000 illegally taken cockles and marine invertebrates.
Information on legal fishing and marine invertebrate collecting is available through the free FishSmartNSW App.
Report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling 1800 043 536 or report online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/compliance/report-illegal-activity.