In late March, 2022, beachgoers at Marino Rocks saw a new activity – several people wading in the shallow water and spearing fish. Dusky morwongs are slow and easy to kill, no matter that they are not good to eat, and one was just left to rot on the walkway. Concerned locals checked up and found that Outer Harbor and Marino – Christies Beach had just been opened up to spearfishing by the then-Minister for Primary Industry, David Basham, overturning a 30-year ban along the whole Adelaide coast and this was just before the state elections. There was meant to have been community consultation but it was limited to a few groups and few people including 5049CC members had heard of the change until after it was passed. Confusion was increased by the fact that new signage was only put up a month later and it was then seen that spearfishing within 100m of the Marino Rocks boat ramp is illegal but by then habits were set and spear fishers now frequent the ramp – unless an inspector is actually present!
Rob George, on behalf of the local “reinstate the ban group” penned a letter to PIRSA and Minister Basham, copied to David Speirs, asking them to reconsider and Lynda Yates started a petition to reinstate the ban on www.change.org/Restore Adelaide Spear Fishing Ban which now has over 1,400 supporters. The Advertiser wrote 2 articles that looked at the issue from both sides.
The response to Rob’s letter and one sent by 5049CC was disappointing – that spearfishing is a sustainable way of fishing (although we pointed out that no monitoring is being done to ensure that this is so, even with the huge number of spear fishers active there) and that the community consultation had shown support for spearfishing. However, we know that both Marion and Onkaparinga Councils did not want this change nor did the few environment groups asked and that the then-Minister’s Advisory Panel had a chair who was President of several spearfishing groups, that he had already asked for this change to allow spearfishing on the urban coast, that many spearfishing clubs were consulted in the ‘community’ consultation, that most coastal residents were not and that the consultation results have not been released at any time to show the actual results.
5049CC supported Rob George and the locals. On 31st May, Lynda Yates wrote to the new Ministers of Primary Industry and the Environment, Ministers Scriven and Close on behalf of 5049 CC . Rob George has also written to them too. We received a reply that the issue was the concern of Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Minister Hildyard, and that our letter was being redirected to her but we have not had a reply. It seems no one from the new State Government wants to alter this decision by the previous Liberal State Government.