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Comment: Green dreams in a sea of red

I WAS gob smacked a couple of days ago when I first saw the map showing just how much water the anti-fishing groups want to lock away.

Having reported on marine park issues for several years I was well aware of the push for 30 per cent of our territorial waters to be closed to all fishing. But nothing prepares you for just how much water this actually involves.

It’s scary stuff.

The map released by the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation will doubtless be derided as “alarmist” and “inaccurate” by green groups and probably the Rudd Government. The Coalition, on the other hand, is already using it as part of their election campaign.

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Ron Boswell, the veteran Queensland Nationals senator, today released a press statement warning that “greedy” green groups want to ban fishing.

“Environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs) are continuing their campaign for more fishing bans, including all of the Coral Sea plus an area off Fraser Island. They are also demanding big fishing bans in the Gulf of Carpentaria including down Cape York and areas around Weipa and Kurumba.”

The senator, long a friend of the rec-fishing sector, said the Coalition would back recreational anglers “all the way”.

See the full version of Senator Boswell’s release HERE.

I was involved, in a peripheral way, with checking some of the data used to create the map released yesterday by ARFF. This involved assessing websites and submissions made by green groups during the commonwealth marine reserves process.

Once you spend time looking at this material, you can quite easily build a picture of where closures are proposed. I’m personally confident this map presents a detailed, albeit indicative, overview of areas that will potentially be closed to all fishing.

The take-home message is that the environmental movement is currently focused on stopping you and I from going fishing. Thanks to Tony Burke, they’ve got the biggest marine reserves in the world. But that’s not enough – they want more. Lots more.

Again, that’s scary stuff.

The only way these potential closures will become reality is if the anti-fishing groups can access political leverage. The current marine park plans, which will lock us out of 1.3 million square kilometres of our own ocean, really only came about because the Greens put pressure on Julia Gillard after the last election.

I seriously doubt that the ALP would have locked us out had they enjoyed a majority government. Ditto the Coalition. Let’s all hope the election on September 7 results in a clear mandate for one or other of the major parties. We can’t endure another parliament with those damned Greens calling the shots!

Download a copy of the map HERE.

Jim Harnwell is the editor and publisher of Fishing World and is also a director of Keep Australia Fishing, a national advocacy group representing the recreational fishing sector.

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