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Tackle industry being ‘thrown under bus’ claim by anglers is refuted


Accusations that the fishing tackle industry in Australia’s Northern Territory has been ‘thrown under a bus’ have been refuted.

The Territory’s Northern Land Council (NLC) has denied it intends to restrict the access of anglers to key stretches of its coastline in the near future. A notice published by the statutory authority last Friday suggested a permit would be needed to access some inter-tidal zones from the beginning of 2021 and that permits would be required in some other areas from the beginning of March.

But NLC Chief Executive officer, Marion Scrymgour, said the notice was only published to formally extend a moratorium on permit requirements until March. “The notice was making sure that from January 1, no-one was breaking the law if they went into those areas,” she said.

The notice not only ‘blindsided’ fishing industry groups, it also surprised the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Trade, Nicole Manison, who said it went against a commitment made in August that permits would be waived until December 2022. And in a Facebook post, recreational fishing body, The Amateur Fishermen’s Association NT, accused the land council of ‘throwing the industry under a bus’.

Negotiations around the use of about 85% of the NT’s coastline (around 6,000k of coastal land and waters) have been going on since a 2008 High Court decision to grant traditional owners exclusive access rights to the inter-tidal zone on Aboriginal land. The NLC has periodically extended permit-free access to the inter-tidal zones while negotiations around their use continue. The existing waiver expires at the end of this year.

Scrymgour said the extension until March would give the land council time to finish consultations with stakeholder groups before permits could formally be waived until 2022, per the August deal.

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