Rec fishing groups welcome marine parks review

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation today welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that work will commence on development of new management plans for the Commonwealth Marine Reserve system.

ARFF was instrumental in having the previous management plans, developed by the Rudd-Gillard Government, scrapped.

ARFF managing director Allan Hansard said the recreational fishing community’s position on marine reserves was clear.

“We want to see the process underpinned by comprehensive scientific risk-based assessment,” Hansard said.

“Under this process recreational fishers should not be locked out of marine reserve areas unless there is a good scientific justification to do so.

“If the science shows that marine areas are so environmentally sensitive that require limiting access for recreational fishers, then access for other recreational activities such as diving and tourism should also be assessed and appropriately limited.

“Arguably, these activities are just as harmful to highly sensitive marine environments as recreational fishing is.”

Hansard said the previous management plans were discriminatory as they excluded recreational fishing from vast areas without any scientific justification. Yet diving, large-scale tourism, cargo shipping and even defence activities could still occur in these areas.

The previous process also lacked genuine consultation and engagement with key stakeholder user groups, Hansard said.

“This was not good public policy and definitely was not good marine conservation policy.”

ARFF hoped the Abbott Government has learnt from the disastrous mistakes of the previous government and establishes a marine protection process where decisions are based on comprehensive scientific assessment and genuine consultation and engagement, Hansard said.

“ARFF looks forward to working with the Government in achieving a marine reserve system that all Australians can be proud of,” Hansard said.

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