VRFish slams animal rights group over game fish listing

VRFish, the recreational fishing peak body in Victoria representing 721, 000 fishers has slammed calls from the Humane Society International to list recreational game fishing as a key threatening process under federal environment legislation.

VRFish chairman Russell Conway said: “This is an outlandish claim that has no basis. It is a knee jerk reaction to the sensible decision by the Australian Government not to proceed with listing five species of sharks under the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) earlier in the year.”

In late 2014 VRFish demonstrated the high value of the common thresher shark to Victorian recreational game fishers and highlighted the responsible management that is already in place. The Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and the Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck accepted our position and then sought a reservation from listing the species under the EPBC Act.

The CMS and subsequent EPBC Act listing had the potential to disproportionately and inequitably impact on recreational fishing in Victoria and other jurisdictions. If listed, it would be an offence for recreational fishers to harm or injure the listed species, even where the species are unintentionally caught when targeting other species.

Geoff Fisher from the Game Fishing Association of Victoria said: “The scientific tagging and data collection programs run by game fishers have helped fill vital information gaps and we continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into research game fish species.”

VRFish strongly supports cooperative action by countries to ensure they address the real risk to thresher and other shark species, which includes targeted commercial fishing, by-catch, illegal and unregulated shark finning operations and the trade in shark fins. Targeted commercial fishing and trade in shark fins needs to be better managed and brought in line with Australian standards.

Dallas D’Silva, general manager of VRFish said: “The recreational fishery in Victoria is valued at $2.3 billion to the State economy and provides thousands of jobs. The game fishery for southern blue fin tuna alone in Portland is estimated to be worth at least $15 million to the regional economy.”

Daniel Stanilovic from We Fish added: “We remain concerned with the inappropriate way in which the EPBC Act responds to CMS listings. As has been highlighted by past listings (Mako and Porbeagle sharks) and the Hawke review, the EPBC Act needs to be adjusted immediately to remove its current inflexible, draconian responsiveness to CMS listings. We are calling on both sides of Federal parliament to fix the legislation as a matter of priority.”

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