Rec fishing groups unite in wake of funding cuts

THE Annual General Meeting of QLD’s rec fishing groups will be held this weekend under an umbrella “threat of non-support” for the Newman Government, following this week’s drastic funding cuts to rec fishing in the state.

Sunfish Chairman John Crone said he was disappointed in the Government’s stance to deliberately reduce recreational fishing support. In the past week Sunfish has been advised by the Government that the $4.6m of the monies levied on boat owners for special purpose recreational initiatives would be cut by $2m and reallocated to employ fisheries staff and fund government business.

Activities having funds cut include: fish stocking, research, tagging programs, Fishcare volunteers and kids fishing days – all were previously funded by the recreational fishing levy.

Minor funding to ensure that anglers had a voice through independent body Sunfish has been withdrawn, leading the representative group to assume it is an attempt to silence any criticism of poorly devised government legislation affecting recreational fishing.

QLD Fisheries Minister John McVeigh was invited to address this weekend’s AGM to answer questions and allay fears of a total government rejection of recreational fishing but has reportedly declined due to other business commitments.

A Sunfish statement released today says it would appear that the Newman Government and the Minister are “more interested in food production”. The group says it has recieved encouraging private support which will ensure the representative body’s future.

One topic for discussion at the meeting will be whether Sunfish maintains an apolitical stance on government decisions, “The Government would be well advised to consider why the IFISH and I VOTE logo is so popular with anglers. The anti-government uprising by anglers that stopped the Federal Government allowing the ‘super trawler’ into Australian waters should be a warning as 1 in 3 Queenslanders fish.”

John Crone said the meeting will proceed and the delegates will decide on what future involvement and support Sunfish will give to the Government, the Fisheries Minister and his department.

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