Rec fishers seek assurance after Coalition funding cutbacks

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the peak body representing the nation’s 5 million fishers, is calling on the federal Coalition to provide cast iron guarantees that it will adequately fund the recreational fishing sector if it wins in the 2013 poll.

ARRF is seeking funding commitments from the federal party following the decision by Queensland LNP Premier Campbell Newman to cut all funding for that state’s peak recreational fishing body.

Allan Hansard, Director of ARFF said “The decision by Mr Newman to basically kill off Sunfish is very disturbing. Before he was elected, Mr Newman promised he would lead a ‘fishing friendly’ government. Unilaterally cutting all funding to Queensland’s peak rec fishing body isn’t what we regard as a particularly friendly act. In actual fact, it is a slap in the face to Queensland’s 700,000 fishers, many of whom voted for Mr Newman.

“We understand the need to rationalise government spending but the fact is that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to maximise the socio-economic benefits of recreational fishing in Queensland. Wiping out funding for the peak body representing Queensland fishers is not the way to get that important work done.

“It is understood that Sunfish’s annual Government funding was about $200,000. While that allowed Sunfish to operate effectively, it is in essence a fairly insignificant amount of money. We understand most of that funding was actually paid for by fishers, who contributed an $18 fee as part of boat registration. Mr Newman will still be taking that $18 but now fishers won’t be seeing any benefits from it. We don’t think that is fair or appropriate.

“We are also very keen to work with the federal Coalition on an approach that will guarantee sustainable funding for Australia’s recreational fishing community into the future. The quite savage cutbacks being announced by a number of state premiers are very worrying from our perspective.

“We would hope that Opposition fisheries spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck would accept our offer to ensure that nothing like this happens following a win by his party next year. We need Senator Colbeck and Opposition leader Tony Abbott to give Australia’s 5 million fishers cast iron assurances that funding required to grow the recreational fishing sector will be guaranteed.

“We are seeking similar assurances from the federal Government regarding on-going funding arrangements. Environment Minister Tony Burke has previously guaranteed funding to help the rec-fishing sector develop policy responses to the federal marine parks issue. That funding is expected to be delivered in the near future so that ARFF and other angling organizations can respond to the upcoming marine parks roll-out.”

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) is the newly formed national peak body representing Australia’s Recreational Fishing Community and is supported by the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), Recfish Australia, Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA), Sunfish Queensland, Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT), Recfishwest, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFANSW), Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association (USFA), Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA), Professional Fishing Instructors and Guides Association (PFIGA), Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body Peak Body (VRFish), and Australian Underwater Federation 

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