UNITY is strength and unity was the campaign message yesterday from a Gympie-based alliance of commercial, recreational and tourism fishing interests.
They fear a possible fishing closure off the Cooloola and Fraser coastline, as a result of a current review of fishing rights around Australia.
However, a campaign spokesman yesterday said the so-called Fraser “Area for Further Assessment” is becoming a crucial piece of territory, which fishing interests fear may be closed or oppressively over-regulated as a result of back-room pressures from the conservation movement, currently at its most powerful level ever in federal politics.
The meeting was attended by fishing industry environmental experts and representatives from fishing-dependent businesses from Gympie to the coast.
The spokesman said the campaign now would be focused on achieving the involvement of all Australians, including those who like to go fishing and those who like to eat fish.
Campaigners have already complained about attempts by federal Environment Department officials to divide commercial and recreational fishing interests, arguing that towns like Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach are inherently dependent on fishing of one kind or another and fishing tourism.
“We want no changes to access to the Fraser AFA,” the spokesman said, arguing that the area involved “no sustainability issues, no pollution issues and no seafloor damage issues.”
He said there was “no unique sea floor that is not found in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” which is nearby.
“The issue is wider than fishing alone, it is about the loss of the seafood industry, the further destruction of the tourism industry and the subsequent loss of services, business and facilities – in short, the destruction of communities,” the spokesman said.
He said the next step was to get the message out to all the constituents of groups represented at the meeting, that is, most of us who fish or eat fish or whose businesses serve people who do.
The historic joint approach will include the Queensland Seafood Industry Association, Marine Queensland (representing marine industries including boating equipment, boat building and maintenance industries) and Sunfish (representing amateur fishing interests).
The meeting foreshadowed a joint membership drive aimed at generating and demonstrating public support, the spokesman said.