NT rejects no-fishing zones

NORTHERN Territory Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis has bucked the trend amongst state and territory governments and rejected the need for recreational fishing bans in any “marine protected areas” to be implemented in NT waters.

When asked by Amateur Fishermens’ Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT) president Warren de With about the NT Government’s stance on “no fishing zones”, Vatskalis said: “I would like to say yes the Government is prepared to close areas but the Government is not prepared to have the same issues like in other states. If areas are to be closed, amateur fishermen will go fishing and I will go with them. So no marine protected areas closed off to amateur fishermen. The only intention is to close areas to the commercial sector and, for obvious reasons, for the protection of species.”

NT anglers have welcomed this statement, with AFANT saying: “This is a very welcome response from the Minister and it is significant news. It means that we can now move on with the planning for Marine Protected Areas in the NT with some confidence.”

AFANT’s Warren de With said: “Our fishing colleagues in other states have been locked out of large areas of some of their best fishing locations often for no better reason than political pandering to green voters and the so-called conservation movement.  The more radical of these groups will not be satisfied until they have virtually wiped out recreational fishing.

“There is no reason why recreational fishing should be subject to this same type of action in the Northern Territory — our fisheries have so far been well managed, our fish stocks are healthy, our water quality is excellent, our marine biodiversity is not under threat and the vast majority of our recreational fishers are responsible in terms of their concerns for our fish and the environments they live in.

“We should not allow ourselves to be put in a position where unjustified access restrictions will be put in place by our own government — particularly as they gave us a further commitment to “boosting fishing infrastructure and access” in the 2008 election campaign.”

Marine parks in Victoria, NSW and Queensland have resulted in numerous no-fishing zones being enforced, angering recreational anglers and causing economic damage to coastal boating and tackle businesses. South Australia is currently planning a network of 30 marine parks, all of which will contain no-fishing areas.

More in the June issue of Fisho.

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