From the VRFish Desk
  |  First Published: February 2010

The forces for truth, justice and the Australian way had a win recently over the mako shark issue.

After an incredibly passionate, unified and resounding response from recreational anglers, Minister Garrett announced the Federal Government’s willingness to overturn a decision that would have lead to the banning of recreational fishing for mako sharks.

The single ingredient that ensured our success in this campaign was UNITY.

Recreational fishers came together with one voice and made their feelings abundantly clear to our political leaders. I’m not even going to try to name any of the groups or individuals that took part in this campaign as there were too many to name. You know who you were and you are to be congratulated!

While this is a good result for now, it would be naive to think that this is the end of the issue. Advocacy bodies and individuals will have to continue to be vigilant and proactive to ensure that similar campaigns do not occur with other species.

Make no mistake; there are radical animal rights groups that want to deny opportunities for recreational fishers. Humane Society International (HIS) were one of the main proponents of this latest campaign. The Australian Marine Conservation Society and WWF Australia were also up to their necks in it.

These groups will not go away as they have access to billions of dollars in donations, bequests and grants. All recreational anglers need to be vigilant. There is no doubt that both yellowfin and southern bluefin tuna and marlin are also being targeted by these extremist groups.

I heard a comment recently from one of these whackos regarding recreational anglers targeting “the poor snapper that are coming in to Port Phillip Bay to have their babies.” Give me a break please.

As I have written recently, there is a campaign to declare refuge areas for Murray cod that could, if it’s successful, lead to the declaration of ‘no-fishing’ areas. In other words, inland marine parks!

Thanks to the recently-released VRFish study of the value of recreational fishing to Victoria’s economy we now know it’s worth $2.3 billion to the state’s economy. Just think of the devastating economic impact that a ban on fishing for Murray cod would have on a town like Echuca or Yarrawonga.

So what have we learned from all of this? You personally may not have an interest in fishing for makos, but you might like to fish for snapper or cod. Well today the campaign is directed to gamefish like makos, marlin and tuna; but that’s not the end of it by a long shot.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought.

When you’re confronted at a local shopping centre by someone shaking a tin wanting you to contribute to some campaign, do yourself and your fishing mates a favour. Ask that earnest individual who’s trying to save the world one gold coin at a time what they think of recreational fishing. If you don’t like their answer, keep your money in your pocket.

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