Keep Australia Fishing challenges Burke over marine parks

KEEP Australia Fishing (KAF), the peak advocacy group representing Australia’s 5 million recreational fishers, has challenged federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to reveal the science behind his decision to ban fishing in more than 1.3 million square kilometres of ocean.

In an open letter to Mr Burke, KAF has asked the Minister why he is banning recreational fishers from a proposed series of Marine National Parks yet is allowing other interest groups, as well as commercial shipping and defence activities, to enjoy unfettered access.
“What do Aussie mums, dads and kids fishing in a tinnie do to the environment that warrants being locked out of Marine Parks?” the letter asked.

The letter also outlines the commitment the recreational fishing sector has to the environment and makes it clear that fishers are prepared to work with the Government and relevant agencies to respond to any conservation issues posed by rec-fishing activities.
“Our stated policy is that if there is credible scientific evidence indicating that recreational fishing activities are having an adverse effect on the marine environment, then we will work … to fix the problem,” it states.
“To date, however, we have seen no evidence from (Minister Burke or his Department) indicating that recreational fishing needs to be curtailed or banned in any Australian waters. This is despite continually asking for the science outlining the need for the proposed lockouts.”

KAF also criticised the Environment Minister for “making no distinction” between family-based recreational fishing and the industrial activities of super trawlers and other large commercial vessels: “(Recreational fishers are) hardly in the same league as a super trawler – yet (the Minister’s) new laws make no real distinction between a family enjoying a pleasant day on the water and the industrial activities carried out by large commercial fishing vessels.”

“We respectfully suggest you need to update your thinking in this regard. Other nations recognise the difference between recreational and industrial fishing when implementing marine protection plans. Why not Australia?”

The KAF letter has been sent to Minister Burke and copied to relevant Government Ministers and Opposition MPs. Read the letter HERE.

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