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MAS President's Report 2019

Minutes of Monaro Acclimatisation Society Annual General Meeting: Bidgee Lodge: 2 February 2019

Minutes of Monaro Acclimatisation Society General Meeting: Bidgee Lodge: 2 February 2019

MAS President's Report to Annual General Meeting, February 2nd 2019

Once again it seems that the year has flown by and the issues continue to pile up. What would we all give for a year or two where we did not have to fight to keep the fishing we have, let alone try to improve it? It seems that in this day and age “change” is the constant process, but sadly a lot of that change is to the detriment of fishing and fish across NSW.

Snowy 2.0

Members will be aware that last year I met with the CEO of Snowy Hydro, Mr Paul Broad and in December I signed the “Heads of Agreement” at the invitation of Snowy Hydro. Also, in December the Snowy Hydro Board approved the scheme. With the NSW Government’s truncating of the approvals process it is clear that this scheme is well on its way. We are all aware of our concern over redfin and this is the basis of our “Heads of Agreement”. I hope that Snowy Hydro will sign the document soon and we will be able to get on with our plan to future proof the trout fishery of Tantangara Dam.

Lake Wallace

The Snowy Monaro Regional Council held a vote in March 2018 on allowing recreational fishing in lake Wallace. As members are aware this was a blow to us, but the vote was only lost on the casting vote of the Mayor. The principle at stake for us over Lake Wallace is one worth continuing to fight for. The council has plans to re-develop other water storages across the shire. If we allow the fiasco of Lake Wallace to go unchallenged, we will face the same anti-fishing approach to these other re-developments. Over December I have spoken to the Councillors who supported us in March and two who did not. While I cannot make any public statement at this time, I am confident we should continue to push ahead to get angling allowed on the lake – we still have a chance, and we must make the Council aware of the importance of fishing to the region.

I also launched the “Fish lake Wallace” Facebook Page, which has proven very valuable in getting our message out to other anglers we would not normally communicate with. While we have been hesitant to jump into the social media space this experience has indicated to me that it is not that bad and has many benefits. It is my belief that the MAS needs to invest more in social media.

Trout Strategy

The Trout Strategy had a start in May 2018 with a number of workshops held across the State to give anglers the chance to communicate their desires for the trout fishing to NSW Fisheries. As you will be aware it was the MAS that proposed the need for this Strategy to emulate the good work done in Victoria and the start was quite heartening, but from there it has stalled. It is disappointing that while I was given and iron clad assurance that the Trout Strategy would be out for comment before Christmas, I have to report to you at this February AGM it is nowhere to be seen.


Next, I must thank Kerry Pfeiffer for taking on the daunting task of representing the MAS in the campaign to over-turn John Barilaro’s Brumby legislation. It is still a mystery to me how brumbies could be given more status than native species in our national parks. While we are not totally anti-horse, those of us who have ventured up to the high country and seen the damage caused by the horses cannot help but come to the conclusion that something needs to happen now. The farcical non-lethal removal program has stalled and there is no way that this fairy tale policy will have any impact on the horses or the damage they are doing. I recently met with the Shooters Fishers and Farmers party candidate for Monaro Mick Holton and I stressed to him that his party has let fishers down by supporting Barilaro’s bill. We expect more as I cannot see the word brumby in the Party’s name.

Snowy River Alliance

In November 2018 I was invited to give a presentation to the Snowy River Alliance on the importance of river connectivity to riverine environment. At this presentation I mentioned how the environmental flows for the Snowy have transformed the fishery in to one worth casting a line on. I also noted that fish moving up the Snowy would all bump into Jindabyne dam wall. Opening up the Moonbah River to re-connect with the Snowy would provide a headwater environment and would help bring the Moonbah back to a first-class trout fishery if fish were free to travel up and down stream. This was well received, and I have had subsequent discussions with the SRA on the possibility of the MAS engaging more on this issue.

Also, at that meeting I revived an earlier MAS concept of creating a fishing trail from Dalgety to Jindabyne along the Snowy river. What a wonderful project it would be if it ever came to fruition. We dare to dream.

NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers

As I will explain in general business, I have asked Bill Blair to step into the role of MAS delegate to the CFA. I have found that over the last 18 months I have not been able to devote enough time and energy to the CFA as it warrants. It is a stressful time for the CFA. Its membership is failing, and its relevance is being questioned. As a founding member it is important that we stick with the CFA and we show a high level of support at this time where the CFA is questioning its own existence. We need to be there to participate in this important discussion.

The drought

And now to mother nature. This current drought is one that has made strong demands on some sections of the State, but left others relatively unscathed so far. We were enjoying another magnificent Monaro stream season. Big browns dominated discussions from the opening of the season through to early December. A fifth straight year of good water and big fish. But now it is crunch time. The recent fish kills in the west of the State highlight the grip of the drought and water mis-management that sees the riverine environment trashed. But it is starting to bite here. There have been a number of reported fish kills in recent weeks, mostly small numbers, but the most concerning is the losses at the Gaden Trout hatchery. A significant number of adult fish and fingerlings have died due to heat stress. The Thredbo river reached 27 degrees for three consecutive days, but it hovered at 25 for a few more days before. According to records this has never happened before. I visited the hatchery and saw dead fish in the river and the hatchery staff working on days off to tend the hatchery fish in an attempt to keep them alive and save as many as possible. I came away from the hatchery buoyed by the display of dedication and commitment from the staff. I also came away thinking that this is probably the new normal.

While on Gaden, NSW Fisheries have lodged an application to the NSW Government for $3 million to revamp Gaden Hatchery. The plan is for a new shed to house 4 heater/chiller units which will allow the staff to manipulate the water temperature as required to grow bigger, healthier fish. The MAS has supported this application and the recent hot water event has made this more important than ever before.

Bill Rushton

We lost another of our pioneering anglers with the passing of Bill Rushton. As time passes the ranks of our fore-fathers pass into history. They were men like Bill who built a fishery, built this lodge, developed a culture. It is our duty to keep their vision alive, we have some work to do. Vale Bill Rushton.

Lastly, I would like to thank the members of the Executive for their work during the past year. To Rod Whiteway thanks again for organising our stocking and keeping me and many of the words I write civil. To Noel Buckland thank you for keeping the books and looking after our accounts – without you we might have to store the money in a hidden sock. And to Libby Hovisapian thank you for continuing to provide auditing services to the MAS each year.

To all the members of the MAS I wish you a good fishing year regardless of the perils we all face.

Steve Samuels


Monaro Acclimatisation Society Inc

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1.0 Meeting opened at 1.02 pm

2.0 Attendance
S Samuels, R Whiteway, G Barlin, N Buckland, D Collier, J Bray, P Batho, J Killip, K Pfeiffer, L Stapleton, B Hetherington, G Zatschler, M Sawa, P Bourne, S Sturgon.

3.0 Apologies.
D Ryrie, G Wood, F & P Smith D Flinn.

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

5.0 Reports

5.1 Treasurer's Report
The balance at 31 January was $11,839. Up from the previous year. Subs were higher at $1051 showing branches were catching up on arrears. But the main reasons for the increase, were a donation of $1900 from the break-up of the Capital Region Fishing Alliance and $1400 from Buckenderra Holiday Parks annual fishing competition. The Treasurer thanked Bill Blair for organising the funds from the CRFA, and the Buckendarra Holiday Park. The Treasurer told members that he and the Secretary Rod Whiteway would have to re-apply as signatories to the MAS account. Also moved and passed that the treasurer organise online banking, Buckland/Barlin. Also moved Buckland/Samuels that MAS send the Hon Auditor Libby Hovasapian, a token of appreciation for her services.

5.2 Presidents Report

6.0 Election of Office Bearers

President: Steve Samuels
Vice President: Kerry Pfieffer
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. However, the meeting elected Bill Blair to be our permanent representative as the President reported that due to the pressures of other work he was doing for MAS he was unable to attend CFA meetings as regularly.
Publicity Committee: Rod Whiteway, Peter Batho, Steve Samuels, Kerry Pfieffer, Bill Blair, John Killip.
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 1.45pm

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1.0 Meeting opened at 1.46pm

2.0 Attendance
S Samuels, R Whiteway, G Barlin, N Buckland, D Collier, J Bray, P Batho, J Killip, K Pfeiffer, L Stapleton, B Hetherington, G Zatschler, M Sawa, P Bourne, S Sturgon.

3.0 Apologies. D Ryrie, G Wood, F & P Smith, D Flinn.

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

5.0 Business Arising from Minutes.

5.1 Kerry Pfeiffer made a presentation to the Invasive Species Council to put our arguments for reducing wild horse numbers in Kosciusko National Park and we are supporting their actions. Kerry made it clear that our support for the Council runs only to the removal of wild horses from the park, as we are aware that they also consider trout to be feral animals. A matter of joining forces to oppose the greater threat. Kerry also announced that in the week after the meeting the executive were taking the Monaro Shooters and Fishers party Candidate to the Currango creek area to view the horse damage.(This has taken place and will be reported at the next meeting.)

5.2 Work on the production of a draft Trout Strategy by Fisheries continues to be slow and this highlights the need for a dedicated trout manager.

6.0 Correspondence out

6.1 Letter to branches with stocking forms attached. Please get these forms filled in and back to me if you have not already done so.

7.0 Correspondence in

8.0 Reports

Treasurers Report
As per the AGM minutes.

9.0 General Business

9.1 The President has held discussions with the NSW Fisheries access officer about what is required to get gazetted access to reserves on the Murrumbidgee and the Snowy rivers. If Council get control they could sell off roads and reserves. We need to talk to the Lands Department and will probably have to survey the roads. The Recreational Fishing Trust could fund this.

9.2 The President had discussions with 2 Councillors who cast dissenting votes on the decision to stock Lake Wallace and may have convinced them to change their position. One Councillor agreed to put a motion to Council.

If this fails there is a State Govt process funded by the Rec Fishing Trust to look at the risk to waterways by providing access. Results so far have shown low to moderate risk. (Since the meeting there has been a setback as the Nimmitabel Advancement Group have made their support for the stocking conditional on getting a new water treatment plant. Report next meeting.)

9.3 On the issue of access to the shore of Lake Eucumbene in the vicinity of Middlingbank the President has held discussions with Snowy Hydro about securing vehicle access to this property.

9.4 The exiting of the Thredbo River bike path through Gaden Hatchery has already created some management problems.

9.5 No Redfin have been found as yet in Lake Williams.

9.6 Gaden Hatchery suffered major fish losses of around 30,000 fish during a recent heat event when water in the Thredbo river reached 27 degrees on a number of consecutive days. There were also reports of dead fish in the Thredbo river at the Hatchery. Nearly a total loss of Brook Trout, nearly all the Rainbow brood stock and two thirds of the display fish and more browns than rainbows were lost. Hatchery staff have made an early release of lake fish in case of another event. We have asked the Hatchery to hold the remaining river fish as long as possible, but we should be prepared for the worst. If necessary I will pro-rata remaining fish across the branches.

9.7 The President advised that his term on the Ministers Advisory Council is due to end. The position will be advertised and he will reapply but suggests anyone with an interest should consider applying.

9.8 Members were reminded that there is an option for members attending CFA meetings to claim expenses. Members at the meeting also conferred on filling in a questionnaire from the CFA asking where they should be focussing attention.

Meeting Closed 3.35pm

Next Meeting at Bidgee Lodge Cooma, 1pm Saturday May 4th, 2019.

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