Pollies line up for Basin C&R comp

FEDERAL and state politicians are lining up to take part in a celebrity catch & release fishing competition being organised by the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) and supported by the recreational fishing community.

The comp will be held at St Georges Basin, on the NSW South Coast, on the weekend of February 2-3, 2013.

AFTA CEO Allan Hansard said the purpose of the tournament was to raise the profile of recreational fishing with federal and state politicians.

“Recreational fishing is one of the largest participatory sports/leisure activities in Australia with around five million Aussies going fishing annually,” Hansard said.

“The recreational fishing community generates more than $10 billion a year. It’s time our politicians realised the economic, social and environmental benefits of recreational fishing. Staging a catch & release competition and inviting politicians and ministers to take part is a great way to show just how important recreational fishing is to our community.”

Teams consisting of politicians, celebrities and tournament anglers will compete in the two-day event. Local anglers are expected to play a major role in the comp, which also will showcase the fishing and tourism benefits of the Shoalhaven region. The public will be invited to attend the weigh-in, which is expected to be hotly contested by MPs from the two major parties.

Hansard said AFTA had extended invitations to MPs from NSW and the Commonwealth.

“This will be a bi-partisan event – MPs from all parties, along with various celebrities and well known angling identities, have been invited. So far the response has been great. As well as extending an invite to all MPs, we’ve also invited Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. It’s important our nation’s leaders fully understand the importance of recreational fishing, especially as we head into an election year.”

Hansard said the fishing comp presented a unique opportunity to inform politicians about issues of concern to anglers. “As well as hopefully catching some quality fish and having some fun, we going to ensure the politicians are aware of the issues that concern Aussie anglers. We’re going to use this opportunity to discuss issues like ‘should fishing be recognised as a sport’, ‘should the rec sector have its own minister’, ‘why are anglers being locked out of marine parks?’ and so on.

“It will be very useful to be able to engage with politicians in this way while we’re all out wetting a line and enjoying ourselves.”

Fisho understands that the comp presentation dinner, to be held at an as yet undisclosed location, could include announcements about policies vital to the long-term future of rec fishing in this country.

“It’s too early to go into details about what we’re planning or not planning here,” Hansard said.

“Needless to say, we’ll be in an election year and it is vital that we ensure all sides of politics understand what anglers want and expect. This competition we’re working on now offers significant opportunities to engage with our political leaders to ensure they understand our concerns and to also present policy initiatives that will benefit all anglers, the tackle/boating sector and regional economies.”

Stay tuned for more info.

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