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KAF enters fray as SA fishos face lock-outs

WITH just under four weeks to the South Australian state election, the race has well and truly begun for the two major parties, with political choices facing anglers regarding marine parks and controversial “no take” sanctuary zones.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that many SA anglers are unhappy with the policies of RecFish SA, the recognised peak body in South Australia, whose role is to advise government on recreational angling issues and to advocate on behalf of the 236,463 recreational anglers in the state. It is understood that RecFish SA supports the Labor Government’s proposed lock-outs, due to take effect on October 1.

Keep Australia Fishing, the national angling advocacy group which successfully campaigned against massive lock-out plans at last year’s federal election, has been asked to provide support and resources to SA fishos opposed to the current Government’s lock-out plans.

KAF chairman Neil Patrick said the organisation was campaigning for a science-based approach to marine protection in SA.

“We do not support the blanket lock-out policies advocated by anti-fishing groups and supported by some political parties. We would suggest to anglers in SA that they consider their vote very carefully,” Patrick said.

“The results of the campaigns spearheaded by KAF in the recent federal poll indicate that anglers can have a major impact on political decisions regarding marine parks and other fishing-related issues.

“All political parties need to consider the possible electoral outcomes if they choose to support anti-fishing policies,” KAF’s Neil Patrick said.

The SA Labor Party officially launched its campaign on February 16.

In its Let’s keep building our Environmental Protection policy, Labor pledges to “continue to take action to protect and embrace our environment”. The document goes on to say that Labor will protect SA’s natural attractions by adding to the system of parks and reserves to ensure the protection of the state’s land, biodiversity and culture.

Labor will “introduce new measures to enhance our marine parks but also encourage more community use of our marine parks”.

SA’s network of 19 marine parks covers about 44 per cent of state waters (about 26,670 sq kms in total). Download map HERE.

Under the Government’s current plan, from October 1 fishing will be banned in “sanctuary zones” that cover six per cent of state waters.

In its election announcement, Labor says it will provide additional funds for monitoring and compliance programs to ensure effective management of the newly-implemented parks.

“Data will be collected across the network and include an assessment of fisheries impacts, enhanced compliance at key monitoring sites and the development of educational materials to communicate the results of the program to the community.”

According to the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) website, the SA Government has spent an estimated $1.18 million on its public awareness campaign re marine parks, which includes community information sessions, bus stop ads, billboards, TV, cinema and newspaper advertising.

It was also was revealed at the Legislative Council Select Committee into Marine Parks in South Australia that a total of 8,649 submissions were received during the state Government’s public consultation. Of these, 337 were unique, while 19 different form letters were received from 8,306 respondents. DEWNR went on to report that only 26 per cent of respondents were from SA, and that a total of 4,522 responses (52 per cent) were received from other Australian states and territories. International responses totalled 1,392 (16 per cent), with the majority of international respondents affiliated with conservation organisations.

In contrast, the SA Liberal Party has vowed in its Fisheries & Aquaculture Policy that if it wins power on March 16 it will:

Take a “sensible” approach to marine parks that protects regional communities, exports, jobs and the marine environment.

Support marine parks but is not in favour of the current sanctuary (no take) zone boundaries proposed by the Labor Government.

Not support the Labor Government’s process for creating the current sanctuary (no take) zones. The Opposition process would follow a “threats based determination” of any protection zone as per the COAG National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

Protect the marine environment through the aquatic reserve provisions in the Fisheries Management Act 2007.

Allow the primary industries department to continue its management of fishing in the state rather than turning the responsibility over to the environment department.

Review the marine park management plans and zone classifications within the state’s 19 marine parks.

Deputy state Liberal Leader Vickie Chapman said: “The State Liberals are committed to improving recreational fishing opportunities throughout South Australia which is why we have been fighting the Weatherill Labor Government’s unfair and ill-advised marine park exclusion zones.”

Labor has pledged to encourage recreational fishing by undertaking an artificial reef trial, facilitate recreational activities, including fishing in unused reservoirs, and providing regional grants for necessary infrastructure and providing grants to build new toilets, paths, camping areas, fish cleaning areas and measuring stations adjacent to marine parks.

Full policies can be found here:

Labor – http://www.jay4sa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/ALPSA-Lets-Keep-Building-South-Australia-08-Our-Environmental-Protection.pdf

Liberal – http://www.stevenmarshall.com.au/Portals/0/Fisheries and Aquaculture.pdf

Details on KAF’s SA election campaign can be found here: www.keepaustraliafishing.com.au

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