Thursday 18 November 2010
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, today I am going to talk about recreational fishing, or subsistence fishing as it was in the early days of European settlement in Tasmania. It has always had an important place in our culture and in our hearts as well. The early European settlers came close to starvation during the first decade from 1804. Few supplies came from England, and the early administration relied on buying in wallaby meat for the government store. James Boyce explains this very well in a book called Van Diemen's Land, a new explanation of our early history published in 2008.

Wallaby meat and a few early crops were vital to the establishment of European settlement in those early days.

Mr Parkinson - They were not very good fishermen.

Mr FINCH - There were not only those supplies but also the products of the estuary and the sea. Imagine those early settlers coming out here and having abalone, scallops, crayfish - yummo - and of course innumerable coastal fish from flathead to flounder.

Mr Aird - What does 'yummo' look like?

Mr FINCH - Yummo! That is what it looks like.

Madam PRESIDENT - If you allow honourable members to bait you, your time will be less.

Mr FINCH - Both indigenous Tasmanians and later settlers have always fished around our coasts. Fishing, of course, is not as important for our survival now, but it is ingrained. It is ingrained so deeply that it is always in the top three or so of recreational pursuits. For some it is almost an obsessional love. I can see a glint in the eye of the honourable Leader over there as I talk about this. Some of us now use fishing as an excuse to get away to commune with nature. Some of us are not very successful at catching fish and many would argue that coastal waters and some of our rivers and lakes are, in fact, overfished.

Nevertheless, Madam President, many of us persist in going fishing and many books have been written on the subject, particularly in pursuit of trout in Tasmania. One exceptionally keen angler was the late Michael Tristram. His brother, Stephen, says of him, 'I could never understand why Michael found fishing so enjoyable but he loved fishing ever since he was a young boy and was first introduced to it by our father by catching cod off the Hillwood jetty'. That is in the member for Windermere's electorate. Michael never came home to Tasmania for a holiday without fitting in a day or two of fishing.

Well, Madam President, Stephen and the rest of the family decided they would like to do something for fishing from Michael's estate. Stephen Tristram approached Michael Stevens, which is a name you might recognise.

Ms Rattray - He is on the ABC Radio on Saturday mornings talking about fishing.

Mr FINCH - On radio, yes; through books and through the Internet as well. He talked to Michael about publishing some posters depicting Tasmanian fresh and seawater fish and, as Michael Stephens put it, a chap rang him one day and said his brother passed away recently and the family would like to do something for fishing from his estate. It was Stephen Tristram. He had heard him talking fishing on ABC radio one Saturday morning. He said, 'You slightly amuse me and I thought you might be able to help'. After some discussion Stephen and his family agreed to commission the production of the superb fish posters that are now available free from all Australian Fishing Trade Association tackle stores. Michael Stephens says fishing is a huge participation sport in Tasmania with almost one-third of the population wetting a line each year. That is remarkable; a third of Tasmanians. I think licensing is up around 30 000 a year.

Two beautifully designed and printed recreational fish art posters have just been produced and they feature some of Tasmania's most popular fish species. I would like to show you this. I am going to make a copy available next week to every member of parliament here so that you will be able to use this as a poster. You can in fact halve the poster, whether you favour saltwater or freshwater fish. Nothing like these has ever been available in Tasmania before. They have been produced with both saltwater and freshwater fish on high quality paper. What a legacy for Tasmanian fishermen, Madam President. What a gift to those Tasmanians who continue an historical interest in catching fish or, like me, just try to catch fish. I will have one of these for each of the members next week and it is Michael Tristram and his family donating those to the fishing enthusiasts of Tasmania.