Your rights under threat: recreational fishos and the marine bio-regional planning program

Our editor speaks his mind about expanding marine parks in Commonwealth waters

Your rights under threat: recreational fishos and the marine bio-regional planning program

It was with great interest that I read an editorial by Len Olyott, from Recfish Australia, about the need for recreational fishos to have a say on the marine bio-regional planning program. This Australian Government initiative will see an expansion of the already extensive marine park network out into Commonwealth Waters. And he was spot on!

Many fishos haven’t yet picked up on the significance of the marine bio-regional planning program and don’t realise just how much it’s going to affect them. As Len says in his editorial, some fishers argue that Commonwealth Waters are over the horizon and out of mind and sight, but the truth is that they are not that far at all, approximately 5km from shore. Most tinnies over 4m can make that run in good conditions and with the improvements to fishing tackle and electronics, it’s feasible for fishos with trailerboats to target marlin and tuna and other powerful pelagics. And what’s wrong with that? But if anti-fishing groups get their way, all of this is at risk.

According to Len, major campaigns on the east and west coast are calling for large areas of ocean (1 million km² each), to be declared off limits to all forms of fishing. These groups don’t want to negotiate and there’s no middle ground.

"Catch and release, or trolling only, are not options for these fanatics and in their ideal world, all fishers will have GPS onboard and be fishing with bio-degradable fishing line," he said.

Like Len, I have no problem with encouraging the use of environmentally-sensitive gear and practices, but pushing for this legislation is going too far.

"This is our most significant challenge in recent times and we cannot sit idly by. What’s needed is action and information," Len said.

Getting the pollies off the backsides is the first step, but they need to know the facts and that’s where you can play a part.

Recfish Australia is compiling a report on fishing activity in Commonwealth Waters and you can be a part of it. Simply go onto the Recfish Australia website and fill out the information form. Recfish will also be compiling other sources of information, relating to the economic value of fishing in Commonwealth Waters.

All fishos and level thinking people should follow Len’s lead and lobby their local federal and state members of parliament to ensure that fishing’s given a fair go in this debate.

We cannot afford to see the wholesale "lock out" of honest anglers from their traditional fishing grounds. And that’s not to mention the huge economic loss to the Australian economy if these ridiculous, ill-planned restrictions are bought into play.

Ian Macrae,
Editor at Large


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