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20-03-2012 08:00 PM #1
AFTA. meet the Pollies. Long read...
Federal MPs hooked at Parliamentary Breakfast
In what has been described as one of the largest Parliamentary Breakfasts for a number of years, more than 30 federal MPs mingled with 50 industry players and recreational fishers at Parliament House in Canberra on 1 March, to hear about the implications of the bioregional marine park planning process on Australia's 5 million recreational fishers.
The event has been labelled the beginning of a new era for the recreational fishing movement to get united and have its voice heard. TV fishing legend Rex Hunt, who initiated the 'catch kiss and release' strategy for recreational fishing in the early nineties, provided a lively master of ceremonies.
“Let’s get those kids off the computer, let’s make drugs and binge drinking dumb and make fishing cool. Fishing people are the best people to manage this resource.” – Rex Hunt
Rex introduced two key Ministers in portfolios affecting recreational fishing across Australia: Tony Burke MP, Environment Minister and Senator Joe Ludwig, Fisheries Minister. He also introduced other parliamentarian speakers Senator Richard Colbeck, Shadow Fisheries Minister and Bob Katter MP, the passionate Queensland MP.
Burke praises fishers for getting organised
Environment Minister Tony Burke opened his address by thanking the recreational fishing sector “for getting organised and being here today. It makes such a difference.”
“Engagement around the country with sometimes disparate recfishing organisations has been fantastic. The draft maps going around have the fingerprints of many people here today,” he said.
“Compromises have been made possible because of the fact that groups got together and organised and had a constructive conversation and relationship with us.” – Environment Minister Tony Burke MP
Minister Burke referred to ideas such as ‘wilderness areas’ put to him by Fishing World editor Jim Harnwell where some of the commercial fishing could be taken out but where recreational fishing is allowed “perhaps tag and release or only taking what on board the boat can eat.” Anglers could experience fishing “out in the wilderness with fish stocks that you never would have otherwise seen”.
He said MPs don’t have a problem with recfishing as “they’ve come here today because they value people having the chance to get out and love the great outdoors… they value what can be done when we’re sensible with reforms, they value what can be done when we get the balance right and make sure that we see the different interests that are there and not pretend that commercial and recfishing interests will always align.”
Coalition Senator Richard Colbeck echoed Minister Burke’s appreciation of getting organised, and acknowledged the work that the recreational fishing sector had put into changing its image to reflect the fishing community’s values, before raising some concerns about the marine park consultation process.
He said recreational and commercial fishers must come to Canberra with a single message as they both want one thing: access. “It is absolutely vital that when you come to Canberra you can do that. I given the same message to commercial fishers.”
He also raised some concerns at the consultation in place surrounding the marine park planning process, telling the group that the risk posed to the environment by fishing should be assessed first.
“The coalition would put the process on hold and put the science on the table, then put everybody in the room with access to that science.”
Colbeck described how recreational fishing is one of the foundations of our community life, saying that:
1 in 5 Australians participate in recreational fishing;
1 in 10 bed nights in tourism accommodation; and
Recreational fishing drives something like $10 billion in economic activity.
Senator Joe Ludwig Fisheries Minister spoke briefly and said there are more things about fishing that both sides of politics support than what they disagree upon. He described his own love for fishing as a boat owner and the importance of succeeding in the process being discussed.
Introducing the final political speaker, Rex Hunt said he looked up passion in the dictionary and there was a photo of Bob Katter MP. In his typical style, Mr Katter said he had been reading the Magna Carta, and that clause 29 said the king will not prevent a free man from access to food supply and access to fish. Katter’s underlying message was that over-restrictive laws aren’t necessarily the best for society, referring to the benefits of fishing to the social issues and mental health in his electorate in North Queensland.
MPs hear the Recfisher’s Perspective
It wasn’t just politicians or TV celebrities who had their say; two great young fishers had the opportunity to give their views on the current discussion surrounding the marine park planning process and the benefits of fishing for Australian’s of all genders and ages:
WA first cab off the rank in Marine Planning
Andrew Rowland from Recfish Western Australia provided the recreational fisher’s view of marine conservation planning in his home state.
Mr Rowland’s organisation has worked closely with government marine bioregional planning, and was pleased to see that the information that Recfish West had provided was evident, a plan which he said recognises the value of recreational fishing. “Healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries are goals that Recfish West desires.”
Recfish found the initial draft bioregional plan for WA had met the government’s goal of conservation while recognising the importance of recreational fishing. Public comment on the draft closed in late 2011.
Rowland said his group was concerned over the ‘greenwashing’ which commenced following the first draft, including the argument that blue whale protection was motivation to ban recreational fishing. This is despite there being major ocean reserves for the whales.
The second draft handed down recently contains new areas excluding recreational fishing. Rowland described how effective marine conservation requires a holistic approach and the discussion continues with constituents in South West WA. He concluded with a warning that the WA plan is first cab off the rank and could have repercussions in other states.
The future in good hands
Female and in her twenties, Chloe Taylor breaks the stereotype of the traditional fisher. She also articulate in describing what drives anglers and what fishing means to her.
She loves fishing for the travel and relaxation of travelling along the NSW coastline, loves achieving goals and spending time with friends. “A huge number of young anglers, both male and female, are passionate and active in the sport. The new age anglers are far removed from the fishers of yesteryear.”
Discussing the new sportfishing trend of 'catch, photograph and release', Taylor said today’s anglers are more environmentally conscious than ever before. “Why wouldn’t we be? We want our kids to able to enjoy the sport as much as we do.”
Taylor said kids have so many distractions through electronic media and asked “What better way to get kids out of the house and meeting people outside the online world than fishing?” She also outlined the mental health benefits of recreational fishing.
“Have you ever wanted to just clear your mind of everything running through it? Be it work, stress, money worries or other things keeping you up at night? Well, when I’m out fishing, any worries or stress just disappear.” The funny thing is, she added,
most fisherman she speaks to say the same thing.
President has the last word
AFTA President Bruce Alvey had the last word, offering his thanks to members of Parliament. “Fishing has the broadest appeal of any sport – male female, rich, poor, anyone can have a go – on a $2,000 a day charter boat or with a Coke bottle and a bit of line on the pier. The vast majority of all anglers care about the environment and the fisheries we use. For the small minority that don't [care], there are inspectors and regulators.”
He reminded the audience that many anglers are happy to approach anybody taking undersize fish or littering, and tell them they’re doing the wrong thing.
"It’s an industry worth an estimated $10 billion and fishers are sick of being treated as second class citizens," Mr Alvey said. "Marine parks should be multi-use unless there is a valid reason that an area or species needs specific protection."
Guests were presented with a lure designed by Lance Butler to cap-off a great morning of discussion and progress.
AFTA seeks policy positions ahead of Queensland Election
In letters to the major Queensland political parties, AFTA Chair Bruce Alvey has asked for a clarification of their policy positions on recreational fishing. Mr Alvey wrote:
"The “Act of going Fishing” adds in excess of $10 billion to the Australian economy and in excess of $1 billion to the Queensland economy when you take in fishing gear, bait, food, petrol, boats, 4WDs, accommodation, travel and associated services.
"I have listed our four major policy positions for your consideration:
Declare 'Net Free' or 'Recreational Only' areas around all large cities and towns on the coast and smaller ones if they want them.
Declare tailor, Australian salmon and all dart and trevally species to be 'Recreational Only' fish.
Develop freshwater fisheries to a higher standard to grow regional tourism.
Allow recreational fishing with one line and one hook in some Green Zones where there is no threat to the biodiversity."
All four of these policy positions have been accepted by the Katter Australia Party and AFTA is seeking similar endorsement from the Labor and Liberal National Party.
AFTA is awaiting confirmation of meetings with the Minister Wallace and Shadow Minister Robinson to discuss their policies on recreational fishing before the election on Saturday 24th of March. To quote that old saying – one day is a long time in politics – particularly when you are in an election campaign.
Reality check on NSW Marine Park planning
AFTA has welcomed the NSW Audit report into Marine Parks as an essential reality check on the marine park planning, implementation and management process.
AFTA CEO Allan Hansard said AFTA was still working its way through the document but was encouraged that the report wishes to question whether the current marine park process is delivering good conservation outcomes for the NSW community.
“One of the interesting questions the report raises is in relation to whether 'locking out' recreational fishers from marine parks is necessary.We would like to see the determination of marine parks made transparent so that we all can understand the marine values the government wishes to conserve.
“We would also like to see a comprehensive scientific assessment of recreational fishing activities on these values. If recreational fishing activities do not adversely affect these values, recreational fishers should not be 'locked out' of these areas.
“Coupled with the scientific assessment of recreational fishing activities on marine conservation values, there should also be an economic and social assessment of the implications of 'locking out' recreational fishers from these areas on local economies and communities,” he said.
AFTA will provide a submission to the inquiry.
AFTA submission to Vic ‘Catch share’ proposal
As discussed in the first edition of Newsreel, the Victorian fisheries department has released a ‘Policy Proposal’ named the Future Fisheries Strategy (FFS). Part of the proposal was to introduce ‘catch share’ or a quota for the three user groups of the fish stocks, namely the commercial sector, the recreational fishers and Indigenous fishers.
AFTA has written a 10-page submission outlining the fishing trade industry’s concerns surrounding the plan. In particular, what is driving the policy in the first place, and why is only one approach to the issues being considered? AFTA has also asked:
How will the catch share be determined and allocated between the user groups, commercial, recreational and Indigenous users?
Who will allocate the catch share to the user groups and will the allocations be tradable?
Who will pay for the compliance and enforcement costs of the proposal?
Questions also surround the economic, social and environmental assessment and the consultation process that preceded the policy proposal. AFTA’s submission suggests that the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) should rethink its approach to developing the FFS, including immediately developing a consultation process that reflects the consultation principles in the Fisheries Act 1995. Download the submission here.
Hope the message gets through ??
20-03-2012 08:30 PM #2
Re: AFTA. meet the Pollies. Long read...
Excellent work by AFTA and everyone else involved to pull off this excellent initiative.
I got to know Bruce Alvey quite well during the Moteron Bay rezoning and he showed outstanding leadership qualities then, and is obviously continuing to do so. A last rec fishers voice may be really being heard.
I am sure they won't drop the ball in the future, either.
Thanks for reporting this, Phill.
Note to self: Don't argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience....
21-03-2012 09:35 AM #3
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Re: AFTA. meet the Pollies. Long read...
WA-Recfishwest is a 'disgrace' to RecFishos ,and nothing more than a bunch of Fish consultants progressively limiting RecFisho access ,bag & sizelimits
...AND...Dearest multiple RFL's in Aust.(children pay also) , recently introduced $30 fee/pp to be able 2 Fish-from a boat , AND looking to reduce PRESENT 20kg. of holiday take-home fillets to 10 kgs SOON (REGARDLESS of present bag/size limits)
p.s. LNP runs WA
VIC.....propose "catch share quotas" ....they're fkn jok'n surely , refer WA lobster 'quotas' 95% Comms. 5% RecFisho....it's now fukked !!!! (previously WORLD-CLASS sustainability)
p.s. LNP runs Victoria.
QUEENSLAND , Thankyou Mr.Alvey , I have 3 of your reels , keep up the goodwork
p.s. LNP will run Qld.
NSW....you can't play State-of-Origin , you shouldn't let Comms. net Jewfish either
p.s. LNP runs NSW