Move to overturn marine park plans

THE Coalition will this week move in Parliament to quash Government plans to lock anglers out of 1.3 million square kilometres of Australian waters.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt made this pledge to hundreds of recreational fishermen gathered at a public rally near Melbourne yesterday.

Together with shadow fisheries spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck, Mr Hunt said the Coalition would move to “disallow” legislation that would result in angler lockouts.


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Opposition environment minister Greg Hunt (left) and Shadow fisheries minister Richard Colbeck at yesterday’s rally. Images: Paul Carter

The support of key independents including Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott would be vital if the Opposition’s disallowance motion was to succeed.

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) was currently lobbying the independents to vote with the Coalition.

A letter sent to the independents by ARFF’s Allan Hansard outlines significant concerns anglers have with the Government’s management plans for the network of marine parks established by Environment Minister Tony Burke.

According to ARFF, anglers face massive lockouts in iconic sportfisheries in the Coral Sea as well as prime gamefishing areas off Perth and inshore waters in the south-west of WA.

“The fact is Minister Burke is asking you and the recreational fishing community to agree with bad public policy,” the ARFF letter to the independents says.

“We don’t agree with him and his Government and we ask you also not to.

“We urge you to ask the Government to take back the management regulations and conduct a proper stakeholder process to develop them. One based on science rather than politics.

“The Government wishes the Marine Park process to be a lasting legacy. All recreational fishers agree with this. But let’s make sure this is a legacy that is durable and one we can all be proud of, not one that is aimed at achieving short-term political outcomes.”
(The ARFF’s letters to Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott can be downloaded HERE and HERE.)

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Image: Paul Carter

If successful, the Coalition’s disallowance motion would mean that management plans for the new marine parks would not be finalised until after the upcoming federal poll.

According to sources in Canberra, environment groups led by the influencial US-based Pew organisation have been frantically lobbying MPs to ensure the lock-out legislation is passed before the election.

Polls indicate the Gillard Government is likely to suffer a major defeat at the September 14 election.

The Coalition has pledged to review the science used to formulate the proposed management plans.

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Lee Rayner talks at the Torquay rally.

Tony Burke yesterday said the Coalition was “scaremongering” by claiming that recreational fishers will be locked out of the ocean. In a press release following the rally in Torquay, Mr Burke said anglers were being misled by “those who purport to support recreational fishers”.

Mr Burke declined an invitation to attend the rally, which featured speeches by well-known angling identities including Rex Hunt, Lee Rayner and Adam Royter as well as by the Coalition spokesmen.

“What the Government has achieved (with its marine parks plans) is a sound balance between protecting Australia’s marine biodiversity and supporting the sustainable use of our marine resources,” Mr Burke said yesterday.

The Coalition’s marine parks disallowance motion is expected to be put to Parliament either late today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, KAF is organising a grass roots letter and phone in campaign to the independents in order to alert them to widespread angler concerns over the marine parks process. Stay tuned to www.keepaustraliafishing.com.au for details of how you can get involved.

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Rex Hunt (left) and Adam Royter. Images Paul Carter

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