Fears grow about fishing bans in national parks

THE peak body representing anglers is concerned federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is planning to ban fishing in commonwealth national parks including Kakadu, the Snowy Mountains and Jervis Bay.

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) wrote to Minister Burke on May 7 asking him to clarify if the IUCN categories used to ban fishing in the Government’s planned marine reserve network would extend to land-based national parks.

“The concern … is that your decision to exclude recreational fishing in IUCN Category II (National Parks) now means that recreational fishing will be excluded from not only marine national parks but also land based national parks in the future,” ARRF CEO Allan Hansard said in the letter to Minister Burke.

“(These) concerns extend to your approach of providing consistent treatment across all IUCN II classified national parks .. Will this see recreational fishers not only excluded from future land-based national parks but also existing ones, including famous recreational fishing locations such as Kakadu, Booderee (Jervis Bay) and the Australian Alps National Parks?”

No formal response has been received to date, although Fisho understands that one of Mr Burke’s staffers replied with a “no comment” when asked about the issue.

The concerns about potential fishing bans in federal national parks come as Mr Burke considers expanding the federal Government’s powers over state-based national parks.

The mainstream media is reporting that environment groups have lobbied Mr Burke to step in and wrest control over national parks from state governments.

Fairfax Media has reported that “the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society are calling for a ‘trigger’ to be legislated, so a heavy-impact project in a park would automatically need review under national environment laws and giving the federal minister scope to block it”.

According to Fairfax, Mr Burke is concerned about moves by the NSW, Queensland and Victorian governments to allow recreational shooting, cattle grazing and possibly logging in national parks.

Mr Burke said the community was right to be concerned places they enjoyed were under threat, the Fairfax report said.
”I share that concern and I’ll be looking into the ways I can stop these state governments from trashing national parks forever,” Mr Burke is reported as saying.

There is no indication that recreational fishing in state national parks is being viewed as a “trigger” for federal Government bans or lockouts.

However, the silence from Minister Burke’s office about potential fishing bans in federally controlled national parks is “of great concern”, ARRF’s Allan Hansard told Fisho.

“We have given the Minister plenty of time to get back to us and allay our concerns about this issue. It’s bad enough that the federal Government wants to ban fishos from 1.3 million square kilometres of our ocean but to ban us from fishing in terrestrial national parks, especially in iconic locations such as the NT, the Snowies and even Jervis Bay, plus various other areas, is an issue of significant concern to all anglers.

“We respectfully ask that Minister Burke immediately clarify what, if anything, he plans to do about recreational fishing in land-based national parks.”

Fisho will detail any response Minister Burke sends to ARFF on this issue. Stay tuned.

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