It appears as though the push to legalise bow fishing for carp in NSW is gathering some momentum. A permit system will likely be put in place to manage the sport, with a permit required in addition to a NSW fishing licence.
Whilst not being fly fishing, the removal of carp from waterways by any method is a win for the environment and our native species and therefore should be encouraged.
The following is a report in the latest NSW CFA newsletter, written by president Don Barton:
The recent changes to the Fishing Rules included provisions enabling a pilot program for bow fishing for carp by a narrowly selected class of persons in specified inland waters in NSW.
On 18 November I attended a full day Bow Fishing Risk Assessment Workshop in Surry Hills conducted by a consultant, and facilitated by officers of DPI (Fisheries and Game Licensing Unit).
The risk assessment was exhaustive. An example of the outcome of a similar process (in respect of permitting regulated hunting in state forests) by the same consultant can be seen at this link.
The permits (or permit – one may be issued for a specified class of persons) which actually make the activity legal for specified persons will probably issue under section 37, Fisheries Management Act 1994. A permit rather than a licence will be required owing to the matter being a trial rather than something new being immediately enshrined in the Act.
The pilot program will commence some time in 2015. Training of applicants for a permit to bow fish for carp in specified locations will be conducted by DPI’s Game Licensing Unit. Individuals will be required to hold a NSW Fishing Fee receipt and a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence, endorsed for bow hunting. Issue of a Restricted Game Licence is limited to members of hunting organisations approved by DPI. Obviously, there are quite a lot of filters operating with respect to who will be permitted to bow fish for carp.
Following the trial period, there will be a review of the trial and that review will inform any decision to persist with permitting bow fishing for carp and if so under what conditions and in which inland waters.
The locations where bow fishing for carp will be permitted were identified amongst known carp hot spots in NSW, with the precise locations being identified by taking account of proximity to towns and other considerations.
The day provided an opportunity to examine the equipment used for bow fishing and to speak to experts in the field. Having exercised that opportunity and having the benefit of sitting through the entire risk assessment process, I found it difficult to have any concerns in relation to the trial. (Indeed, I can think of at least one river reach where the opportunity to target carp so precisely may well prove useful in mitigating the presence of carp in refuge holes during dry spells, and I look forward to persuading a bow fishing enthusiast (if I can find one) to demonstrate his skills, if that reach becomes one of the sites scheduled under the terms of the permit/s.)
Of course, anything new will inevitably attract concerns one way or the other, and it is easy to attempt to create a moral panic in respect of any activity with which one is unfamiliar; ignorance being the mother of prejudice.
The practice is in fact not so novel, having been legal in NSW in tidal waters ever since there have been regulations governing recreational fishing. The reasons for it not being permitted inland probably had more to do with conserving freshwater native fish and salmon and trout rather than safety. It is permitted in some other states, in the lower Murray in SA, I have heard.
Some concern may be felt in respect of authorised bow fishers being tempted by fish other than carp. Having regard to the filters operating on the selection of permit holders, this seems to be an unlikely risk. Further, the technique doesn’t seem to lend itself to taking other species and in any case, even if the odd opportunity arose and was exploited, that would be no different to a person doing the wrong thing by keeping a trout cod that they had inadvertently hooked, for example. The fact that some will people will do the wrong thing is not a good reason for forbidding a privilege to people who do the right thing.
There was a concern expressed by a Fisheries compliance officer that some people may hear that bow fishing is permitted in NSW and may rush into it without acquainting themselves with the precise regulations. This would seem to be a matter that can be reasonably addressed by suitable publicity, including informative publications being placed in retail outlets, including those in towns in neighbouring states.
People who don’t bother to read such material probably already bow fish in NSW inland waters. It is already happening illegally in freshwater in NSW. See this Youtube video for example…
Bowfishing Carp nsw
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It seems reasonable to expect that the individuals who will have taken the trouble to undergo the training, and apply and pay for the permit, and who are members of clubs, will not be well-disposed towards those who persist with bow fishing illegally, and will be as ready as any angler to pass on information to Fisheries’ compliance officers of any illegal activity, including illegal bow fishing.
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