Rec fishing makes its mark in mainstream media

WHEN it comes to mainstream media reporting, recreational fishing has long run a distant second behind sports and other outdoor pursuits that have historically received the lion’s share of newspaper coverage. This lack of coverage is hard to fathom, considering there are more than 5 million rec fishers in Australia…

While for too long those in rec fishing circles have cringed at the mainstream media’s inability to make a clear distinction between recreational and commercial fishing, it seems the tide on that disparity might finally be turning. A case in point is the current level of growing public opposition to the imminent arrival of the super trawler FV Margiris into Australian waters. This is a story that has largely been brought into the public arena by rec fishing groups (and websites like this one).

The Margiris issue has resulted in a greater awareness of the power the commercial sector wields with government. It has also brought to light the growing unity and strength within the rec fishing movement, particularly in the wake of the ongoing marine parks juggernaut… A recent opinion piece by Fairfax journalist Andrew Darby outlines how powerful an entity a united rec fishing movement can be.

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“Turns out that as the row over the super-trawler Margiris grows into a defining national resource battle, it’s not the green groups who are holding the whip; it’s the recreational fishers,” Darby wrote for Fairfax’s National Times website.

“They were the ones courted by the federal Government to find a way to let the Dutch ship fish in Australian waters. The vessel is being brought to Australia to trawl for 19,000 tonnes of small pelagic fish.”

“The recreational fishers’ decision to quit (a government) working group, rejecting industrial trawling instead, is clearly a blow to the venture.”

Darby goes on to say” “This is not the first time recreational fishers have flexed their muscles. Their influence is growing and it’s time the hand on the rod was seen for the strength it has.”

Read the full story HERE.

In another example of positive mainstream reporting of rec fishing, Saturday’s Weekend Australian featured a piece on barra fishing within its Travel section. Big barra dreaming by Stephen Fitzpatrick, details a recent barra adventure Fitzpatrick undertook at Melville Island in the NT. As it turns out, he was accompanied by long-time mate and former colleague at the paper, Fisho editor/publisher Jim Harnwell.

In his story, Fitzpatrick gives a wide-eyed account of the trip as he catches his first ever barra – and loads more of them – as well as his biggest ever fish, a 101cm threadfin salmon. As well as a great account of a wild fishing adventure in a remote location, the piece also outlined the outstanding work being done to get kids in the Tiwi Islands region involved in the sport as well – as has been previously reported by Fishing World.

For more details, download Stephen Fitzpatrick’s article from the Weekend Australian here and here. Jim Harnwell’s related accounts of this trip can also be read here and here.

And as a final thought, Andrew Darby wrote in his aforementioned piece, …”in the final analysis, the (MV Margiris) venture will depend fundamentally on confidence in its regulation. Recreational fishers are the bedrock of that confidence, and they have shifted.”

The times are definitely a changing …

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