Aussie anglers getting ‘Locked out’
The Australian Government is on the verge of ‘locking out’ Australian recreational anglers from over 1.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s oceans. This is very worrying for South African recreational fishermen and indeed recreational anglers around the world as it might set an international precedent in barring anglers from large fishing areas!
Australian Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, recently announced the proposal of a “Lock out” of recreational anglers in Australia. The proposed ‘Commonwealth Marine Park Reserve System’ came in response to a multinational lobbying campaign led by the Pew Environment Group, a branch of Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew has supported a multimillion dollar advocacy and media campaign in Australia that is uncompromising in its approach to lock recreational anglers out of vast tracts of Australia’s oceans as well as iconic inshore fishing spots, including well-known big game and sportfishing locations such as Osprey and Marion Reefs in the Coral Sea, Geographe Bay, Perth Trench and Dampier. These worldrenowned areas are not only frequented by Australians, but also recreational anglers from all over the world.
Interestingly, Pew – a US-based company, hasn’t attempted to pressure their own government in implementing the same measures on American shores. According to an article by Fishing World, Pew has admitted it pressured the Australian Government to lock anglers out of vast areas of the Coral Sea but would not take the same action in American waters because it would harm the US economy and disadvantage local fishermen. The Pew comments have outraged Australian anglers, who stand to be seriously disadvantaged by Burke’s decision to support the American organisation’s sustained anti-fishing campaign.
In a letter published in the August edition of the US-based Sport Fishing Magazine, Pew director of federal fisheries policy, Lee Crockett, said closing American waters to fishing “wouldn’t make sense – for fishing enthusiasts or the environment”. It is the opinion of the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) that Australia’s recreational anglers have always supported appropriate marine conservation measures based on sound science. In fact, it is held by the IGFA that Australian anglers are renowned for their work in marine habitat restoration and marine conservation and there seems to be no justification for the lock out.
Spokesperson for the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), Allan Hansard said there is no scientific justification and there have been no socio-economic assessment of the impacts of the proposal.
He believes that such decisions should only be taken if there is a sound scientific rationale. “ARFF acknowledges that the Government has tried to minimise the impact of the Marine Park Reserve System on Australia’s recreational anglers by putting reserves out to sea and changing boundaries,” Hansard said. “However, these examples gloss over the underlying problem that the Government is basing the Marine Park Reserve System on an archaic zoning rule that treats Aussie anglers in the same way it treats industrial-scale commercial fishing and oil and gas developments.” Hansard made another observation: “Interestingly the Government has recently approved access to a huge foreign industrial size commercial fishing vessel – the likes of which this country has never seen before, yet Mum, Dad and the kids will be ‘banned’ from trying to catch a fish!” An organization called “Keep Australia Fishing” has been established to manage a ‘Don’t Lock Us Out’ campaign including a ‘Write in’ petition to the Australian Government.
The petition asks the Australian Government not to lock recreational anglers out of Marine Parks, and rather to reconsider their proposal and reassess the establishment of Marine Parks on sound science. The IGFA is asking all its members for support in helping to send a strong message to the Australian Government by writing to the government directly or by going to www.keepaustraliafishing.com.au and joining the online ‘Write in’ petition. The IGFA fear that, if the proposal is accepted in Australia it will set a ‘disturbing precedent’, not only for future Marine Park decisions in Australia but for Marine Park decisions internationally. Leisure Boating and SADSAA would like to encourage readers to join the petition to keep Australia fishing and, perhaps more importantly, to help prevent the Australian proposal from influencing South African Government policy regarding recreational fishing restrictions.
Information sourced from www.sadsaa.com, www.ausfish.com.au and www.fishingworld.com.au