Source: ABC News
PHOTO: OFishing is allowed in NSW as long as COVID-19 rules are followed. (ABC News: Kerrin Binnie)
Fishing is still allowed in New South Wales despite many outdoor activities being restricted amid the coronavirus lockdown after an intervention by a state
- The NSW Police Minister intervened to have recreational boating be considered "passive exercise"
- This is contrary to advice received by fisherman in Queensland
- NSW Police warned people could still be fined for not following physical distancing while fishing
Recreational fishing was initially not considered by the NSW Government as a "reasonable excuse" or an "essential activity" and was slated to be banned alongside skate parks and bootcamps.
However, the NSW Police Minister David Elliott said he personally intervened and obtained legal advice from the Police General Counsel which considered
it "passive exercise".
The minister said he contacted Transport for NSW and had them strike out a section in an unpublished press release which banned recreational boating
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said, however, just because fishing was permitted it didn't mean it was an invitation for people to go boating en masse.
"If you do need a break and if [fishing] is your exercise, than do it sensibly and do it quickly and return home," he said.
"You can fish but if you end up on a wharf with 50 other people then we get back to safe distancing and getting tickets."
The exemption in NSW was distinctive from advice given to Queenslanders on Wednesday,
which included recreational boating among its ban of outdoor activities.
But even without the personal intervention of a NSW minister, fishing would have still been acceptable in several circumstances outlined by the NSW Government.
The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020, which went into effect on March 31, would have allowed fishing if it was
essential for work.
Catching fish and then dropping it off to a market would have been legal under the exemption in the order which read "travelling for the purposes of work
or education if the person cannot do it at home".
Reeling in a cod for dinner would also have been allowed under the provision which read "obtaining food or other goods and services".
These exemptions were later clarified by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
"Advice from NSW Police is that fishing is permitted, as long as people follow all other advice in relation to social distancing and gatherings of two
or more people," the DPI said.