VIC fishos angry at shark bans

In the latest development in the mako and porbeagle shark fishing bans likely to come into force at the end of January, over 350 angry Victorian anglers last weekend attended a public meeting in Hastings to voice opposition to the controversial restrictions.

The anglers called on Peter Garrett, the Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts, to delay the ban until a flaw in the controversial EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) is remedied.

Under legal advice sought by the State’s Peak Representative Body for anglers, VRFish, Garrett has the “room to move” ability under the EPBC by granting an interim exemption.

A large groundswell of opposition has arisen amongst the anglers Australia-wide in opposition to the decision on the basis that there is no scientific evidence that mako shark populations are at unhealthy levels in Australian waters.

A recent Ernst and Young report commissioned by VRFish found that the recreational fishing industry in Australia is worth $2.3 billion a year to the Victorian economy, and game fishing for sharks makes up a large part of this figure. In Victoria, mako sharks are one of only three species sought by offshore game fishermen, the others being tuna and yellowtail kingfish – as a result the ban is expected to have a devastating effect on the state’s economy.

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Local recreational angler John Willis stated, “I’d rather be eating a nice piece of freshly caught mako from our pristine Australian waters than a slab of contaminated, imported Mekong River catfish.”

Local Member for Hastings Neale Burgess addressed the lively and well attended meeting and stated that this was “a tragedy occurring in our community.” He also stated that the State Brumby Government had not objected to the ban.

Burgess said, both he and the State Opposition were totally opposed to the ban.

The Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts and local Member for Flinders Greg Hunt stated clearly that the ban was a “massive overkill” and that there was “no way he (Minister Garrett) needed to go to that position.”

Victorian angling groups are now urging concerned anglers to voice their disapproval of the bans by writing to federal Environment Minister Peter Garratt, PM Kevin Rudd and local state representatives. Relevant address or office contact details are:

Hon Kevin Rudd MHR
Prime Minister
Tel: (02) 6277 7700

Hon Peter Garrett MHR
Minister for the Environment,
Heritage and the Arts
Tel: (02) 6277 7640
Postal Address: The Minister of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
The Hon Peter Garrett AM.MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives,
Parliament House,

Hon Tony Burke MHR
Minister for Agriculture,
Fisheries & Forestry
Tel: (02) 6277 7520

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