Fish lobby denies own comments
QUEENSLAND’S charter and recreational fishing lobby yesterday backed away from its own criticisms of Green fishing policies, effectively lending credit to claims that the industry is not being accurate in its concerns about the current review of fishing rights off the Cooloola Coast.
At a Gympie Chamber of Commerce breakfast this week Marine Queensland CEO Donald Jones shared his belief that the conservation movement, particularly the “Greens” had been unduly influenced by extreme animal liberation and vegetarian activists, who opposed fishing for reasons not related to the environment.
The comments drew an angry response on Thursday from Greens federal election candidate Dr Jim McDonald, who emailed Mr Jones, accusing him of “misrepresenting the Greens’ policy”.
In reply, Mr Jones told Dr McDonald yesterday: “You can’t always believe what is reported,” effectively denying statements he made quite clearly to a room full of Gympie business leaders on Wednesday.
The denial may effectively damage the credibility of commercial and recreational fishing interests who have expressed alarm about the fishing rights review being conducted by the federal environment department under the supervision of Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
It also lends credit to Dr McDonald’s earlier claims that the fishing industry has not told the truth about the Greens’ position, which he said is far from anti-fishing.
“Don Jones knows what the Greens’ policy on fishing actually is, because I sent it to him after I attended a Tin Can Bay forum on the fishing industry on April 22,” Dr McDonald said.
“I went so far as to tell him it was clear that ‘your industry organisation and the Greens have far more in common than we have differences’.
“The first principle of our policy is the management of recreational and commercial fisheries to maintain sustainable populations and fisheries and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing.
“This is hardly closing down fisheries. Mr Jones spoke to the seafood forum about sustainable practices.
“Greens policy is to protect fish nursery habitat and encourage environmentally benign aquaculture industries.
“And nothing in his remarks was at odds with the Greens’ strategy to maintain adequate, biologically representative ‘no-take’ areas within each fishery and/or marine bioregion for the conservation of marine biodiversity and fish stocks.”
Dr McDonald accused Mr Jones of “acting politically” as the proxy for the Nationals. “He was certainly not giving the Gympie Chamber of Commerce or his own members the benefits of the facts that he has been provided with,” Dr McDonald said.
Mr Jones indicated yesterday he had meant to refer to “green groups” and not the Green Party when he used the word “greens.”