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MAS President's Report 2018

Minutes of Monaro Acclimatisation Society Annual General Meeting: Bidgee Lodge: 3 February 2018

Minutes of Monaro Acclimatisation Society General Meeting: Bidgee Lodge: 3 February 2018

MAS President's Report 2018

On the fishing front we have been blessed with a very good season for our Monaro rivers. This year saw the word get out that Monaro was back and while many of us enjoyed a rather uncrowded but excellent river fishery for the last three years, but this year saw the hordes descend on the Monaro rivers.

As such this is testimony of our efforts in providing fishing through our volunteer stocking program, but with the good times and the increased angler activity it did create some issues for our magnificent Monaro landholders. In some cases, anglers decided not to ask permission to cross private land and this practice of ignorance has the potential to threaten the good nature of many landholders. It is something that we need to raise within the context of the NSW Trout Strategy that I will mention later.

But while on the rivers, I take this opportunity to thank all of those landholders who willingly allow access to the rivers that flow through their properties. Without them we would be severely limited to public access points which are few and far between on the Monaro.

The lakes, on the other hand, have been a mixed bag. Lake Tantangara has continued on its merry way of being the unsung hero of the snowy lakes. Virtually unmanaged and left to natural recruitment this lake continues to provide excellent fishing. But it cannot be taken for granted. The fact that visitation rates to Tantangara are only a fraction of those to our main lakes of Eucumbene and Jindabyne and its fantastic spawning streams probably has something to do with it remaining a productive lake.

Lake Eucumbene has had a checkered year. The lake only rose marginally this year and has remained stable for most of the season. This has somehow resulted in reduced yabby activity and brown trout that have been quite poor in condition. I cannot remember seeing so many skinny browns in this lake. However, despite this the fishing has been productive and while nowhere near as good as last year those who seek with guile and cunning get their fish.

The sad part of the fishery is Lake Jindabyne. Once again, we had a poor rainbow spawning run and a lack of rainbow trout in the fishing sense. It has been about 4 years now that Jindabyne has fished below par and while the lake does receive a huge number of stocked fish the lake just does not seem to respond. One concerning fact is that of the rainbow trout spawning this season there was little, if any, size difference between 2 and 3-year-old fish. This fact alone suggests to me that the food source for rainbows is not adequate to sustain them, but it is only my though.

By now we are all aware of the large brown trout captured in Khancoban Pondage. The media hype for this fish was an indication of just how valued trout are in fishing circles. One fish created ha huge storm, but as we know that is not the norm for Khancoban. Since the redfin have colonised this lake the rainbow trout fishery has slowly but surely declined. Let I remind all that one big fish does not a good fishery make.

So, let me move on to the politics of our fishing, there is quite a lot here.

About six months ago I initiated the development of a NSW Trout Strategy at the RFNSWAC meeting. While it is fair to say that uptake has been slower than I would have liked, as of last week there appears to be some movement. NSW Fisheries are compiling a draft strategy and will be seeking angler input from across the State. Among many of the key issues will be angler conduct on rivers when interacting with landholders - maybe we need something like a code of conduct to be distributed with licences.

On broader matters the NSW Fisheries Department has finally agreed that anglers need a peak body to represent the many groups within our sport. At this time NSW Fisheries have advertised a tender for recognised fishing groups who believe they can perform the task to tender for the position. The Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW has submitted a tender and the MAS has supported them. Getting this peak group up will be a challenge, but if we fail, anglers will forever be reduced to a loose coalition of waring factions unable to approach government of the department on a united front. Regardless of who gets the tender we all need to support it to the hilt.

There will be a significant attempt this year to have opera house type yabby traps banned in NSW. The MAS has been active here and we have suggested that if this occurs there needs to be something to take its place, otherwise black-market traps will remain. The open top pyramid traps used in our snowy lakes fill this bill perfectly and to date have proven not to trap wildlife.

On 12 December I attended the Snowy Lakes Strategy meeting. It is fair to say that lake Jindabyne was discussed extensively. Some key decisions were to drop back the Brook Trout and Atlantic salmon stockings in an attempt to provide more space for trout. We will see how this goes.

Also, we decided to protect a few spawning streams for our lakes with additional closures. Because we do not know what contribution these smaller streams make to the natural recruitment of our lakes these closures will be accompanied with some monitoring. The Victorian Fisheries staff who attended the meeting were very interested in this approach and will be watching us to see if it is something they might adopt.

Also, we will be adopting the banning of trebles on our spawn run fisheries. This may not go down well in the initial stage, but in a year or two it will be seen as a sensible approach to make sure released fish are in good condition to spawn.

On Gaden it has been interesting to see the approach taken by Mitch Etkins in his experiments to grow bigger trout for stocking. Mitch has done some fantastic work here and while the hatchery is constrained he has managed to produce a small number of bigger fish through the use of water heating at the critical hatching time. While there will be a lot of clubs clambering to get their hands on these fish for stocking the MAS will have to play the role of arbiter to ensure that everyone gets a fair share and distribution is based on need not want.

Lake Wallace at Nimmitabel continues to be a moving feast and for a small regional lake it has taken up a lot of my time, but as a matter of principle it is very important to the MAS, anglers and the people of Nimmitabel. In November I met with the Mayor and staff and I must say I had a fair meeting and at the end of it the Mayor invited me to speak at the December Council meeting on the matter. In December I attended the Snowy Monaro Regional Council meeting and made a presentation to the Councillors as to why allowing angling in Lake Wallace is important. After that I was invited by the Mayor to provide written information to the Council to assist it in making a decision which I believe will be made at the March meeting. We are so close, but still no cigar.

A sleeper issue that has only just raised its head is that of wild horses in the KNP. Due to my work load this issue has been handed to Rod Whiteway and recently Kerry Pfieffer took up some media work on the issue. While it is fair to say we will not win any friends if we recommend culling of the brumbies it is within our remit to protect the streams they are destroying. There will be more on this issue, but it might be that we can force some action from KNP if we demand the streams be fenced off.

The biggest issue facing us has been the proposal by Snowy hydro 2.0. The feasibility study was released, and it was good to see that the specific issue of redfin contamination was mentioned. A second threat that raised it head in the feasibility report was the suggestion that spoil from the tunnelling would be dumped into the deeper parts of Talbingo and Tantangara. Now this approach is not something that we should support and we will make this clear to Snowy Hydro. To date I have been given frank and constant updates by Snowy hydro, but nothing yet is confirmed as the project still has many hurdles to overcome before final approval. However Snowy Hydro has asked me to convene a meeting with key fishing stakeholders. No other group will get this level of attention for this project and it is up to us to make the best of it. I suspect that the rest of 2018 will be a hive of activity for me on this front and it may be that we will be required to seek some substantial legal advice to ensure we are protected.

So, while it has been a busy year I feel it will only get busier. We have a lot on our plate, but members should feel proud that the MAS has stood up the the challenges and is making a difference.

Once again, a big thanks to the Executive and to Rod Whiteway for his constant editing of my letters and emails. Also, to Noel Buckland for keeping an eye on the books and Greg Wood for stepping into the vice president shoes and helping with my correspondence.

Also, a special thanks to the clubs that make a significant contribution by attending MAS meetings. I know it is not easy or particularly enthralling to come to MAS meetings, but it is the only avenue we have to build a strong and united voice to protect what we have.

Steve Samuels


Monaro Acclimatisation Society Inc

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1.0 Meeting opened at 1.11 pm

2.0 Attendance
S Samuels, R Whiteway, N Buckland, G Barlin, D Collier, J Bray, P Batho, B Batho, J Killip, K Pfeiffer, D Harkins, M Sawa, D Flinn, M Ogilvie, R Vickery.

3.0 Apologies.
B Hetheringon, J Miller, D Ryrie, G Wood, F & P Smith.

4.0 Previous Minutes.
That the minutes as circulated be adopted. Barlin/Bray.

5.0 Reports

5.1 Treasurer's Report
The Treasurer reported that the balance of the MAS accounts at 1 February 2018 was $8022.13 down $409 on the previous year mainly as a result of subs being down $800 from last year. See report attached that shows some clubs are 3 years behind in subscriptions and others 2 years. Subs for 2018-19 are now due also. The treasurer thanked the Hon Auditor, Libby Hovasapion of Alpine Accounting for auditing the books.

5.2 Presidents Report

6.0 Election of Office Bearers

President Steve Samuels
Vice Presidents Bill Foster
Secretary Rod Whiteway
Assistant Secretary Peter Batho
Treasurer Noel Buckland
Salmonid Adviser Fred Dunford
MAS representative on the Gaden Hatchery Management Committee Steve Samuels
Delegates NSWCFA. Any member can attend CFA meetings and details of meetings can be found on the NSWCFA website which is a very informative newsletter of current issues. The following have said that they were interested in attending.
Rod Whiteway Bill Foster Rob Bradley Steve Samuels Murray Ogilvie Peter Batho Fred Dunford
Publicity Committee Rod Whiteway, Peter Batho, Steve Samuels
Allocation Committee Executive
Hon Solicitor Mark Flint
Hon Auditor Libby Hovasapian

7.0 Affiliation Fees to remain at $3 per head. Buckland/Smith.

Meeting closed at 1.35pm

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1.0 Meeting opened at 1.35

2.0 Attendance
S Samuels, R Whiteway, N Buckland, G Barlin, D Collier, J Bray, P Batho, B Batho, J Killip, K Pfeiffer, D Harkins, M Sawa, D Flinn, M Ogilvie, R Vickery.

3.0 Apologies. B Hetheringon, J Miller, D Ryrie, G Wood, F & P Smith.

4.0 Previous Minutes. That the minutes as circulated be adopted, Barlin/Collier.

5.0 Business Arising from Minutes.

6.0 Correspondence out

6.1 Submission from the president to Snowy Mountains Regional Council giving them information on angler visitation to the region and likely angler usage of Lake Wallace.

7.0 Correspondence in

8.0 Reports

Treasurers Report
See attached report and summary in AGM minutes. Note overdue subscriptions.

9.0 General Business

9.1 Branches attending tendered their Branch stocking forms. There was some discussion about the need for branches to spend more time assessing stocking outcomes with perhaps looking at amending numbers or sites.

9.2 The president and secretary reported on the outcomes of the recent Snowy Lakes Strategy meeting that was held at Gaden hatchery. It was recognised that the Lake Jindabyne Fishery is not producing. So on top of the normal stocking of approximately 65000 rainbow fingerlings the lake will receive part of the 18000 specially grown out fingerlings this season. Just a warning though, increased stocking may not be the answer as other factors could be at play. For example the Lake being held at higher levels continually. This may have compromised weed beds.

Also it was decided to seek extended closures of some creeks entering Jindabyne and Eucumbene that provide spawning facilities to protect trout spawning in them. We are unsure of the contribution these creeks make to lake recruitment so will monitor them. Also consideration will be given to introducing a single hook policy on the spawning stream runs as there is evidence that trebles can cause more stress and damage.

9.3 The website is up for renewal. It has averaged 650 visitors per month. Meeting supported renewal and also loading more information about our stocking activities and links to Fisheries

9.4 There have been rumours that NSW Forestry is going to increase pine plantings in the Bombala area and concern was expressed about effects on streams from siltation etc. President to discuss with NSW Fisheries.

9.5 Much concern was expressed at the damage being done in Kosiusko National Park by brumbies. The extensive swamps on Currango and Mosquito creeks have been drained as a result of horses breaking down natural barriers that held back the water, changing levels. Banks have been eroded on the Murrumbidgee and Eucumbene rivers leading to siltation and threatening the aquatic ecology of these streams. Moved Kerry Pfeifer/Rod Whiteway that MAS write to the Minister For the Environment and National Parks, with copies to the opposition, John Barilaro, Mike Kelly and Snowy Hydro, seeking fencing off of streams and wetlands to prevent further damage if brumby numbers are not reduced to sustainable levels.

Meeting Closed 3.37pm

Next Meeting at Bidgee Lodge Cooma, 1pm Saturday May 5, 2018.

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