For many years it has been difficult to find a means whereby the recreational and sport fishing sector of the fishing industry can secure a reliable and equitable source of revenue to provide the capability for the sector to develop and grow.
Equity issues are always difficult to overcome when it comes to financing a proposal e.g. under the current state arrangements if we were to ask for a contribution (from licence funds) from the states with fishing licences then not all states would contribute equitably as some have no or limited licence arrangements. However if a levy was imposed, for example, at the wholesale point of sale for fishing tackle or boat sales and this passed on to the end user then the end user will be contributing on a user pays basis i.e. the more you buy the more you pay. And this would be equitable across the country with no exceptions. The alternative funding options identified in the paper will be assessed for equity, effectiveness and ease of implementation.
Programs such as the Recreational Fishing Community Grant Program are not long term (20 yrs) and it is increasingly evident that the recreational sector must be able to support its direction and to take responsibility for the future. A reliable and secure funding source is essential for this.
Historically, the recreational fishing sector in Australia has always relied on governments to provide resources to develop and promote the sector. The idea of a long term, strategic revenue stream independent of government formed the basis of this scoping study.
An independent revenue stream would allow the sector’s representative groups to develop long term plans for capacity building, succession planning, promotion and marketing of recreational fishing, Research, Development & Extension, restoration projects, etc which in turn will deliver direct benefits to the fishing public.
Several options for strategic funding mechanisms were considered including hypothecation of existing taxes and the raising of new levies on fishing related purchases. Most of these were rejected based on government policy or difficulties with implementing new “taxes”. A broader roll out of general fishing licences or boating levies was considered as one possible source of funding at state/territory level while the establishment of a permanent recreational fishing trust was considered as an option at a national level to fund activities of national importance. Both of these streams, however, rely on some form of government involvement.
The only options for a truly independent stream for the recreational fishing sector involves the development of partnerships with corporate sponsors and reliance on money collected directly from recreational fishers through donations or membership. Provision of professional services may establish a revenue stream for peak representative organisations.
Keywords: Recreational fishing, funding, revenue, grants, strategic.