Coalition may hold key for Aussie anglers on marine park lockouts

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) has welcomed the recent statements by Coalition leader Tony Abbott on the Marine Park Planning process at the Brisbane Boat Show.

In a press statement released late this afternoon, the ARFF says it now awaits the full details on the Coalition’s plans for the Marine Park planning process. However, the group says if the Opposition leader’s statement has been interpreted properly, the Coalition will allow recreational angler’s access to Marine Parks (green zones) subject to a scientific, economic and social assessment. If this is the case then the Coalition may hold the key to whether Australia’s 5 million recreational anglers will be locked out of over 1.3 million kilometres of Australian Marine Parks as proposed by the Gillard Government.

ARFF spokesman Allan Hansard said “Australia’s recreational anglers are the true marine environmentalists and will actively support necessary conservation measures to protect Australia’s unique marine biodiversity and structural characteristics. We are the eyes and the ears on the sea and it is in our interests to ensure our seas are healthy for future generations to enjoy. However, locking Aussie anglers out of Marine Parks will remove an effective and cost efficient way of ensuring Marine Parks provide a high level of protection from threats such as illegal commercial fishing and environmental damage.”

“The Gillard Government’s approach to Marine Parks is the same as the foreign anti-fishing lobby. They want to treat Australian families that go fishing in a tinny in the same way they treat an industrial scale fishing factory or an oil rig and lock them out of Marine Parks just for wanting to catch a fish.

“We are pleased that Mr Abbott and the Coalition have recognised the difference.

“If the Government and the anti-fishing lobby had not opposed the proposals and policies put forward by Australia’s recreational fishing community, a workable system of marine protected areas around Australia would now be assured.

“Instead, the no-compromise policies of the foreign anti-fishing lobby and their continued pressuring of the Gillard Government have caused significant public disquiet and have destabilised the Marine Parks process.

“We would like all sides of Government to see sense on this issue and not lock Australia’s recreational fishers out of Marine Parks unless there is a sound scientific justification to do so. We will continue to work constructively with all sides of Government to see this achieved.”

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) is the newly formed national peak body representing Australia’s Recreational Fishing Community and is supported by the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), Recfish Australia, Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA), Sunfish Queensland, Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT), Recfishwest, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFANSW), Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association (USFA); Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA), and the Professional Fishing Instructors and Guides Association (PFIGA).

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