MPs told: Don’t lock us out

“Don’t lock anglers out” was the message delivered to ministers and MPs this morning at what has been described as the biggest parliamentary breakfast for 20 years.

The meeting, organised by tackle association CEO Allan Hansard and RecFish Australia, was held at Parliament House in Canberra and was attended by more than 85 parliamentarians, senior bureaucrats, the tackle industry and representatives from key angling organisations.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig, opposition fisheries spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck, as well as more than 20 other parliamentarians and senators, attended the meeting, which is being lauded as a breakthrough event in government/angling relations.

The breakfast meeting was followed by a forum aimed at delivering the policy framework for a new united national body which will represent angling and boating issues to all levels of government as well as mainstream media and the community at large.

In talks delivered at the breakfast meeting, Ministers Burke and Ludwig, as well as Senator Colbeck, promised better consultation with anglers on marine parks issues. Minister Burke said outcomes from the current federal marine parks process would be “positive” for anglers.

“You guys will have access to far more fish and fisheries than you ever had before,” the Minister said.

“It’s great to see you have united and are presenting a clear message about what you want and expect from the marine parks planning process.”

Parliamentarians and bureaucrats were told in various presentations from angling identities, including fishing legend Rex Hunt, RecFishwest acting CEO Andrew Rowland and talented fishing newcomer Chloe Taylor, that Australia’s 5 million anglers would not tolerate large scale closures to traditional fishing areas.

“The message delivered to our national parliament this morning is that anglers will not accept any ban on recreational fishing unless there is sound and credible science to back it up,” AFTA’s Allan Hansard told Fisho after the meeting.

“The ministers and all the MPs who attended have heard our message and I think they will heed it and we will see positive change as a result.

“This is a very positive day for rec fishing in this country. We now need to finalise plans for an effective national organisation to combat the rhetoric coming from extremist anti-fishing groups and to continue to work proactively with government and politicians to deliver the best outcomes for anglers and the marine environment.”

The breakfast meeting and forum was described by AFTA president Bruce Alvey as a “momentous” event for anglers.

“Our politicians today heard that the act recreational fishing is worth $10bn annually to the Australian economy, employs thousands of people and is a sport and lifestyle enjoyed by 5 million Aussies. Today’s meeting will have far reaching and very positive outcomes for all of us.”

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Senator Richard Colbeck (above) promises better consultation with anglers on marine parks issues.

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Chloe Taylor, who featured on Fisho’s Decemeber cover, speaking at the AFTA parliamentary breakfast.

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