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Politics and fishing
  |  First Published: March 2012



Don’t we all just love the opportunity to have our say about government?

That’s a loaded question I know, but honestly I really don’t like voting. I’ve never been a member of a political party, my family never voted one way or the other and until I saw my recreation and life being eroded away by preference votes, I didn’t really care for politics.

Unfortunately this is not the case now as government after government seems hell bent on pandering to a minority to get their preference votes. Federally it’s a joke and in our state it’s just as bad. Be that as it may, I have asked for fishing policies from the major parties and the results are below.

This election, more than any in recent times, is a real chance for rec anglers to take back some of what they have lost. A solid voter base to support recreational fishing is the only way any political party will listen to us, so if fishing is your life, your passion or your way to get away from it all, think carefully and read on.

Labour

I was excited when the Premier asked me in February last year to take on the role of Fisheries Minister because, very simply, I love fishing. One of the most important issues for me as Minister is ensuring recreational fishers’ grassroots concerns are heard at the highest levels of government, so Queensland’s fishing lifestyle can continue to prosper for my kids, their kids and their kids’ kids.

One of the key themes to emerge as I consulted with members of the fishing industry this year, was a general feeling amongst recreational fishers that their concerns, issues and ideas were not being heard at the highest levels of government.

To give the recreational fishing sector their deserved platform, I established the Recreational Fishing Advisory Group, so the State Government could hear straight from the people who know fishing best and help us make decisions through their no nonsense advice.

Committee members were selected on the basis of their roles in the recreational fishing community and to ensure all areas of the sector were represented.

The Group is made up of representatives from Sunfish, Tackle Association Qld, Marine Qld, Freshwater Fish Stocking Association, Fisheries Qld and Qld Charter Vessels.

The purpose of the committee is to give the recreational fishing sector a vital platform for their ideas, issues and concerns to be heard and acted on by the State Government.

The committee discusses freely and frankly issues important to the sector and, as chair of the Recreational Fishing Advisory Group, I have made it a priority to ensure those issues are dealt with.

The committee has an important role in defining the government’s policy direction into the future, and I look forward to building on the solid start the committee has made to the year.

It is important to support the next generations of recreational fishers, and I want to build on the popular Living the Queensland Lifestyle fishing clinics - free for kids - by aiming to increase the number of kids who attend these clinics.

So far more than 2000 children have participated in these clinics - run in partnership with Sunfish since 2006 - and through providing better infrastructure and facilities that enable and encourage kids and their families to use these skills, we are securing the future of recreational fishing and the industries it directly supports.

I want to continue to deliver new boat ramp facilities and better car parking at popular recreational fishing spots right across Queensland, like the one currently being constructed at Townsville with 12 boat ramps and 250 car spaces.

Feedback from these projects is positive, with many of the Queenslanders I’ve spoken to saying it is increasingly quick and easy for them and their families to get out on the water and do what they love without spending time stuffing around with trailers and parking.

But it’s not just about providing decent infrastructure, it’s also about the environment itself and making sure fish numbers remain sustainable for everyone to enjoy.

Growing up in North Queensland, some of the best fishing spots in Queensland were at my doorstep and as a keen fisherman I am passionate about enabling other Queenslanders to enjoy their fishing as much as I do.

It is vitally important for fishers and families to continue being able to enjoy their weekends, or time after work out on the water fishing their secret spots, and exploring different waterways in search of new ones.

Queenslanders spend more than $350 million a year on recreational fishing, and I’ll work to make sure the recreational fishing community enjoys its fair share of government spending.

Fishing isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a Queenslander’s birth right. – Minister Craig Wallace

LNP

The LNP is committed to ensuring our National Parks are properly managed and available to be enjoyed by all Queenslanders.

National Parks are critical for the conservation of Queensland's natural heritage, for stronger communities and for tourism. The LNP understands that it is vital that our National Parks are protected for the future, better managed and are good neighbours for adjoining property owners.

Queensland waters

Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in Queensland, with an estimated 750,000 recreational fishers in this state, who contribute $1.5 billion to the State’s economy. The LNP has consistently stood for fair outcomes for recreational fishers and boaties. Only the LNP can turn back the tide against Labor’s anti-fishing and politically driven policies.

Labor has largely ignored Queensland’s recreational fishers and has sold out their right to fish sustainably for preferences deals with the Greens. Who could forget Labor’s snapper bans that Labor MPs voted for in the Queensland parliament? Labor and the Greens are secretly planning more bans and closures that will further strip away the rights of recreational fishers. Furthermore, under Labor governments, the cost to fish has risen sharply and will continue if they are re-elected.

LNP and rec fishing

While we will have specific announcements throughout the State election campaign, there are several strategic directions that the LNP is committed to:

1. The LNP stands for full consultation with rec fishers. We have been listening to Queensland’s recreational fishers. As the Shadow Minister for Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure I have travelled across the State meeting with rec fishers and representative groups to understand their concerns and perspectives. An LNP government will consult widely and continuously with the fishing public and ensure that their views are heard.

2. The LNP stands for fair access for rec fishers. If rec fishers fish responsibly and sustainably, they don’t need to be increasingly banned from, and locked out of, large sections of inshore waters as the Bligh government is doing. We continue to stand for sustainable fishing and protecting our marine environment.

3. The LNP stands for sustainable fishing. A large number of recreational fishers remain angered by Labor’s green politics and question the evidence-base for excluding recreational fishers from some fish-rich areas. The LNP is committed to ‘no new marine parks and fishing closures’ and to maintain the existing three state marine parks.

4. The LNP will invest in boating and marine infrastructure so that local communities have the boat ramps, pontoons and fishing platforms that they need.

5. The LNP stands for a viable and sustainable seafood industry and to reducing pressures created by overfishing – where it can be demonstrated.

The LNP is committed to Recreational Fishing policy that is sensible and sustainable, and that:

• Gives local people a proper say in decisions that affect their community, and

• Allows recreational fishing access to inshore and inland waters at fair and sustainable levels, and

• Protects our marine environment.

It’s time for a change, and we can only change Queensland by changing to an LNP CanDo government – a government that plans carefully and acts purposefully. – Mark Robinson, Shadow Minister

Katter’s Australia Party

He’s one of the most recognisable men in Australia. Big white Akubra hat, even whiter hair, leather brief case and RM Williams boots all make Bob Katter standout from a crowd wherever he may be.

But it is not in a crowd the North Queensland statesman feels most at home, and it’s certainly not in Canberra.

“There’s nothing I like more than getting out bush, taking the grandkids down the paddock, lighting a fire and boiling a billy. We might get the air rifle or a fishing line to throw in the creek,” Mr Katter said.

Such activities bring back fond memories for Bob (apparently not Mr Katter), tearing around Cloncurry with his mates.

“Saturday afternoon, we’d grab the billy can, the rifle, fishing line and off we’d go. Real boys own adventure stuff. And it was terrific fun, especially compared to now-a-days sitting in front of the television playing video games.”

Many years later and it’s a memory of the way things used to be that sees Bob Katter, now a federal politician with 40 years experience, having recently started his own party, Katter’s Australian Party.

“Everywhere you turn now there is a new law saying we can’t do this or we can’t do that. You can’t boil a billy, we’re not allowed into national parks, they even have spy planes now checking we are fishing in the right areas.

“With this new Party, we are determined to turn all this around”.

And this is good news for anglers.

Katter’s Australian Party has been formed around a set of clearly stated core values and principles one of which declares;

“Australians must have the freedom to pursue outdoor recreational activities of their choice including hunting, shooting, fishing, boating, camping, four-wheel driving, horse riding, rock climbing, and bushwalking without unnecessary limitations and restrictions.”

“The first thing we will do is make sure there are no more closures. Let me make myself very clear on that, there will be no more closures. And then we will reopen areas and allow people to go into them,” Bob said.

As well as reducing restrictions on outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, Katter’s Australian Party is keen to see a turnaround of prosperity for Australia by restoring manufacturing and agriculture.

“These industries need to be protected and restored. And it’s quite simple to do. Government contracts will go to Australian companies. Cars, steel and uniforms will be made in Australia and not China or India”.

Never one to mince his words, or shy away from a confrontation, Bob has a very clear passionate message for the other political parties.

“You’ve had your chance and you’ve blown the country away. Now you’re going to pay the price. We’re coming after you!” – Katter’s Australian Party

The Greens

The Australian Greens believe that:

• A cooperative national approach to coastal management is required to deliver clean and healthy environments, integrated ecosystems and sustainable coastal communities.

• The application of the precautionary principle is fundamental to sustainable management of marine, coastal and estuarine ecosystems.

• Fisheries must be managed as a part of a broader ecosystem, which meets the needs of natural predators as well as humans.

• The native title claims to sea country by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be acknowledged, including their right to sustainably accessing customary fishing grounds.

• The health of Australia’s estuarine, coastal and marine environment is dependent on land management that recognises the interconnectedness of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

• Ecosystems-based management is the most sustainable and appropriate model for the management of Australia’s marine territories.

• The health of Australia’s fishing industries is dependent on adequate conservation and sustainable management measures that ensure the replenishment of fishing stocks.

• Sea level rise, ocean warming, acidification, and increased severity and frequency of storms as a result of climate change pose grave threats to marine and coastal ecosystems.

The Australian Greens want:

• A Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) system of marine reserves in both Commonwealth and state and territory waters, to adequately conserve and protect Australia’s unique marine, coastal and estuarine biodiversity.

• Statutory ecosystems-based regional marine planning that enables the full range of uses and impacts to be identified and managed, and allocates resources across and within marine industry sectors.

• A reduction in fishery by-catch and habitat damage from both commercial and recreational fishing and other marine activities, and the conservation of key target species.

• A strengthened cooperative national approach to the identification, containment and eradication of introduced marine pests.

• Implementation by all levels of government of the National Framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

• Protection of the habitat of all marine mammals.

• A global ban on commercial and so-called scientific take or other killing of all whales and other cetaceans, except for sustainable indigenous subsistence hunting. – The Greens

Hopefully there is a bit more information in the above to help you along the decision making process. I can’t and will not tell you how to vote. That is your right and your choice, so get informed, research some things important to you and make your decision come voting day. Good luck to all candidates and to all recreational anglers.

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