A NATIONAL media campaign to urge the federal Government to reconsider its plans to lock Aussie anglers out of iconic sportfishing will be launched this weekend. A full-page ad will feature in this Saturday’s edition of The Australian newspaper. The “Don’t Lock Us Out” ad will coincide with the official launch of new national lobby organisation called Keep Australia Fishing (KAF).
In a media release, KAF said it was a national lobbying and advocacy organisation representing Australia’s five million recreational anglers. Its aims were to “fight against politically motivated anti-fishing campaigns while highlighting environmental issues threatening our waterways and fish stocks”.
A KAF spokesman said the organisation will initially campaign against federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s proposed federal marine parks network. These marine parks plans threaten to lock Australian anglers and their families out of vast areas of ocean in northern and south-western Australia.
“We want and expect good protection for our marine resources but Aussie anglers just don’t accept being locked out when there is no reason given,” fishing identity Rex Hunt, who will officially launch KAF via his popular radio program, said this week.
“These lock-outs also set a dangerous precedent. Acceptance of these no-fishing zones without any scientific backing or justification means anglers could well face more lock-outs in the future.”
KAF will lobby the Government to design alternative marine zones which provide maximum environmental protection while allowing for sustainable and well managed recreational fishing. The central plank of KAF’s marine parks policies would see recreational fishing, which is currently classified as being the same as industrial trawling, long-lining or mining, be treated as non-extractive and thus allowed in most or all of the zones currently earmarked for total protection.
KAF has major concerns about possible socio-economic fall-out if the Government discriminates against recreational fishing via its marine parks plans.
“Recreational fishing is the lifeblood of many regional communities,” Rex Hunt said.
“Fishing brings in significant economic benefits as well as being part of our great lifestyle. It is vital our young people have the opportunity to experience nature and the outdoors via the simple thrill of catching a fish. Establishing lock-outs cements the idea is people’s minds that fishing is somehow bad. And I just don’t buy that. It’s not right. It’s just not on and our Government just shouldn’t be heading down this path.”
(More from Rex Hunt in video below)
KAF is also spearheading a campaign to stop the construction of a massive pipeline to extract water from the Macquarie River in central western NSW. KAF is concerned that Orange City Council’s plans to build the pipeline will destroy one of the last pristine sections of wild river in NSW as well as threaten many species of endangered native fish including the Murray cod, the trout cod, the Macquarie perch and the river blackfish.
Along with local anglers and conservation groups, KAF is urging the Orange City Council to reject the pipeline plan in favour of one or other of a variety of alternative options available to it.
The pipeline being pushed as being necessary to “drought proof” the central-western city of Orange but water from the Macquarie is also earmarked for use by a nearby goldmine.
KAF rejects the need for the pipeline and says the Macquarie’s unique eco-system and the iconic native fish it supports are too important to destroy so that a goldmine can access cheap water.
For more details on KAF campaigns and policy platforms, see www.keepaustraliafishing.com.au.
According to its media release, KAF is supported by the Australian Recreational Fishing Federation, the national peak body representing angler interests in Australia. See www.arff.com.au for details.