NSW Labor plans to hand spending decisions back to recreational fishers.

The people who fish will help the state decide where the money from licence fees will go – if the opposition sweeps to power


The NSW Labor opposition has promised to give the state’s 770,000 recreational fishers more say in how licensing fees are spent if the party is swept to power in the March 23 state election.

In a scaled-down repeat of the strategy that helped to sweep the Victorian Labor party to power earlier in the year, the Michael Daley-led opposition has promised to set up an independent management group called RecFish NSW to oversee how the money collected from fishing licences will be spent.

“As a statutory authority, RecFish NSW would improve the governance and oversight of the $15 million raised each year from recreational fishing licence fees that are placed into the Recreational Fishing Trust,” a release from the party said.

“Its board would include a mix of skill sets and expertise including legal, business, and marine science, as well as elected representatives of anglers from coastal and inland regions.”

Under the plan, the NSW Department of Primary Industries will have to gain funding approval from the RecFish NSW board.

“Anglers deserve to know where the millions they fork out in licence fees end up, and to have a real say in how that money’s used to support rec fishing across NSW,” opposition leader Michael Daley said.

Shadow primary industries minister Mick Veitch said recreational anglers had told him they were “fed up with taking orders” from the Berejiklian coalition government. “You pay your fee, it goes to the bureaucrats, and you don’t know much beyond that.

“There is a wealth of expertise and insights in the recreational fishing sector that government needs to work with, not against,” he said.

The Coalition Government angered the state’s recreational fishing community last year after it proposed an extension to marine parks that would have locked anglers out of large sections of some of the state’s most popular coastline, and Sydney Harbour.

It later overturned the plans after a huge by election backlash in Wagga Wagga, a seat the Liberals had safely held for 60 years. The marine park expansion also faced dissent from backbenchers.

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