NSW Election: Big parties snub fishos

THE Coalition and Labor have snubbed NSW’s 1 million anglers in the lead-up to the state election. Polls indicate that Premier Mike Baird is set to retain power, despite a strong campaign by Labor’s Luke Foley.

Moves by the recreational fishing sector to engage with the major parties to discuss how NSW’s fisheries resources are managed and allocated have failed to get traction with the Coalition and Labor, with recreational fisheries leaders expressing frustration at the lack of support shown by state politicians.

At the time of writing, neither party had produced any recreational fishing policies, although both had previously promised to do so. See our voting guide HERE. Fishing World has made repeated efforts to get policy information from Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and Labor’s fisheries spokesman Steve Whan but our messages and emails remain unanswered.

The refusual of both major parties in NSW to engage or even talk with the recreational fishing sector is at odds with what has occured during other recent state polls. In the Victorian and Queensland elections the recreational sector was accorded bipartisan support with positive policies released and supported by both sides of politics.

Some pundits have told Fisho that NSW politicians are fearful of a backlash from commercial fishing operators if they show any signs of supporting recreational anglers. This seems unlikely given the infighting and lack of effective leadership currently besetting the commercial industry.

At this stage it seems more likely that a lack of ideas is the main reason why there’s been inactivity on the fishing policy front. Most observers agree that NSW governments have consistently failed when it has come to developing policies that support a sustainable commercial industry while also allowing the recreational sector to develop to its full potential. Since neither Labor or the Coalition has as yet produced any new policies addressing these issues, it seems likely the discord between the two fisheries sectors is set to continue.

The constant threat of marine park closures is being mooted as another reason why the major parties have so far been tight lipped on fisheries matters. Before the election, Fisho interviewed Labor’s Luke Foley and Steve Whan. Both were at pains to assure the rec fishing community that while Labor wanted to establish a marine park in the Sydney region, it would not “necessarily” result in any new fishing bans. Both MPs categorically ruled out any deals with the Greens or other anti-fishing groups.

Since that interview Mr Foley has risen from being Labor’s environment spokesman to taking control of its leadership. He’s also struck a deal with the NSW Greens on preferences. Given this, it seems likely that Labor’s so far deafening silence on the fisheries policies front could well have have something to do with not wanting to upset their friends in the Greens Party.

While it’s unlikely that the Coalition would ever contemplate doing a deal with the Greens, it needs to be said that Premier Mike Baird and his Evironment Minister Rob Stokes are on the record for supporting marine parks. If, as expected, Mr Baird wins power on Saturday, it is highly likely that “no fishing” zones would soon be introduced in and around Sydney.

So unless either or both parties decide in the next day or so to release proactive and visionary recreational fishing policies – which certainly remains possible but is becoming more and more unlikely – NSW anglers are set to be stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to casting a vote this Saturday.

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