Report Calls for National Campaign to Protect Rec Fishing

A DETAILED report released today has recommended a national campaign to challenge the many threats facing Australia’s most popular recreational pursuit.

Titled “Keep Australia Fishing”, the independent report was commissioned by the Boating and Fishing Council of Australia* (BFCA) and prepared by former UK politician and Sydney resident Martin Salter.

Salter, who served as Parliamentary Spokesman for Angling under the governments of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said the 54-page report drew on “best practice” from other countries around the world where recreational fishing was properly respected and valued as a significant economic contributor.

“Australia’s recreational fishing industry has been under threat for many years, from fish kills on major rivers, habitat degradation, urban pollution and unjustified marine park lock-outs,” Salter said.

“While Australia still boasts some of the best recreational fishing in the world, pressure is mounting from poor land use practices and extreme Green movements that regard anglers as part of the problem rather than the solution.

“Responsible recreational anglers are the true guardians of the aquatic environment and sensible conservationists should be working with them to protect and enhance our fisheries.”

Some of the report’s key recommendations include:

• The Keep Australia Fishing Campaign – an independent body led by the tackle and boating industries to lobby on behalf of recreational fishing, to promote the sport among young people and to effectively challenge actions and practices that are harmful to fishing and fisheries; 
• A new mass membership national peak body – recreational fishing licence (RFL) holders to be members ofa new peak advocacy body with full voting rights as in Holland and New Zealand; 
• Independent Recreational Fishery Trust Funds – funded through state RFL revenues and controlled byanglers, free from political patronage;
• Tougher rules on pollution and habitat degradation – a complete overhaul of allowable chemical dischargesinto watercourses and possible civil action against polluters;
•Ending unwarranted lock-outs of recreational anglers from marine parks – building community support forproper science-based conservation measures;
• Regular surveys on economic benefit – there is an estimated three million recreational anglers in Australiaand potential economic benefit of up to $10 billion annually, although accurate figures are needed;
• Policy development through an Australian Charter for Angling – the emergence of minority parties representing anglers only highlights the failure of too many politicians to take anglers concerns seriously.

Other key points from the report: 

• Closing inshore reefs and waters in metropolitan areas to commercial fishing so these popular andpressured areas get to become recreational-only fisheries;
• Recreational only status for marlin and other designated sport fish species;
• Restrictions on beach netting and targeting of spawning aggregations;
• Statutory duty on public bodies to promote recreational fishing;
• Opening up of water supply dams to anglers;
• Updated fisheries and environmental legislation. A summary of the Keep Australia Fishing report is available for download HERE or the complete report HERE.

The Keep Australia Fishing Report initiative has been well supported by many prominent identities within Australia’s fishing media and tackle and boating industries.

According to Fisho’s David Green, “Recreational fishing in Australia has long needed a road map forward in order to plan its future. Anglers want a say in how their activities are managed, their access rights and a code of responsible conduct. This will allow the kids of this great country to participate in an important and environmentally-aware pastime that generates lifelong skills, promotes an active healthy outdoors lifestyle and self perpetuates fishing as a sport. For too long recreational anglers have been divided and conquered through differing philosophies when it comes to dealing with government.”

Doug Joyner, Executive Officer of the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) is hopeful the report will prove an effective tool in voicing rec fishing community concerns to government bodies.

“The Australian Fishing Trade Association commends the Keep Australia Fishing report as a pathway for recreational fishing to be maintained and developed. Government and those who are serving the Australian community should take stock of the report and incorporate the recommendations applicable, so that balanced recreational fishing activity is maintained,” said Joyner.

*The Boating and Fishing Council of Australia (BFCA) includes the following organisations; Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), RecFish Australia, Boating Industries Alliance of Australia (BIAA), Australian Marine Engine Council (AMEC) and Outboard Engine Distributors Association (OEDA).

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