Motives for QLD survey questioned

With the announcement of a rec fishing survey last month in Queensland, fears have been raised that the findings of the survey will be used to lock anglers out of popular fishing areas.

Liberal National Party Member for Cleveland Dr Mark Robinson said yesterday Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin needed to come clean about whether another deal had been done with the greens to lock up more areas.

“Anglers have not forgotten 2008 when they cooperated with a government survey,” Dr Robinson said.

“In good faith, many answered questions over the phone and at boat ramps across Moreton Bay about where they fished and what they caught, unaware of the Bligh Government’s deal with the greens.

“Favourite fishing spots in the Bay became places needing ‘protection’ and fishers were locked out of these fish-rich areas, which made up 70 to 80 per cent of the most fishable areas of the Bay. Permanent exclusion zones, Green zones, were introduced to the Bay as part of the Marine Park plan in March 2009, amid controversy and angry scenes.

“The Premier made lightning trips to Bayside areas for staged media grabs, pretending to have support from fishing groups, but no mention was made of the behind-the-scenes deal done by her Government.”

Robinson said Minister Mulherin’s February 25 announcement of another phone/boat ramp survey, of more than 4000 fishers for later this year to gauge recreational catch size and value, “smelt fishy”.

He said the results would be available presumably in late 2011, which could be on the eve of the next State election.

“With the Greens being determined to stop fishing all over Australia, and Bligh more desperate for Green preferences to hold on to power, it takes little imagination to wonder what might be coming to the Bay at the end of this study.”

In announcing the recreational fishing survey last month Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said the survey would help improve the sustainability of recreational fishing in Queensland.

“More than 4,000 recreational fishers will take part in a telephone survey later this year,” he said.

“The survey will target a cross section of Queenslanders for a period of 12 months.”

“For 2009, we believe the recreational sector is worth about $350 to $420 million a year to the Queensland economy, that supports thousands of jobs across Queensland.”

Fisho contacted Minister Mulherin’s office today for further comment and were told by a spokesman we would receive a statement by press time. As yet a response hasn’t been forthcoming – we will keep you posted of any updates.

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