A former fisheries inspector and Liberal MLA says too much of the income from WA recreational fishing boat licences is spent administering them.
Bernie Masters, who ran against then-fisheries minister Troy Buswell as an independent in the State election, said the licences turned fisheries inspectors into bureaucrats. He suggested as much as 30 to 40 per cent of the income from the licence went to cover costs.
Mr Masters was concerned the time inspectors had to spend checking licences took them away from more important duties, particularly education.
"What I found really important as an inspector was that fisheries inspectors were both law enforcement officers and also educators," he said.
"The one thing that no fisheries inspector worth his or her salt wanted to be was an administrator.
"Unfortunately, by coming in with this recreational boat fishing licence, basically the Government has turned fisheries inspectors first and foremost into administrators whose first question is, 'Can I please see your recreational boat fishing licence?'"
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston, who took over the portfolio this month, said administration in the form of licensing staff time and the cost of producing plastic cards for all recreational fishing licences was less than 5 per cent of the annual recreational fishing account budget.
About $3.5 million for this budget came annually from recreational fishing boat licences, the same from other recreational licences for rock lobster, abalone and freshwater fishing and about $13 million from the Government. The licences cost between $30 and $40.
Mr Baston said licence checks were not the primary focus of fisheries and marine officers but "are undertaken as part of existing education, enforcement and marine safety activities".
"Importantly, licences are integral to recreational fishing research and surveys, which are vital for maintaining healthy fish stocks for future generations," he said.
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