Fishing alarm spreads
THE apocalyptic fears of the Gympie Region’s fishing, boating and tourism industries are set to become a significant federal election issue, with campaigning across Australia over an environmental review of fishing rights.
Industry representatives say possible fishing closures off the Fraser Island and Cooloola coastline could mean the end of the entire Coast economy.
And, on a national political level, Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell yesterday warned that similar reviews across Australia could mean “Australians face a future without local seafood”.
The campaign will have its local focus today, with distribution of flyers proclaiming: “Like fishing? Like Fresh fish? Like Australian prawns? You have a problem.
“The Cooloola Coast professional, charter and recreational fishing industries are under threat.”
The fears are despite assurances by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett that, while closures would occur, there would also be open and mixed-use fishing areas, all of it subject to lengthy public consultation and scientific investigation.
“This is a fair dinkum process,” he told The Gympie Times in an exclusive interview last month.
He promised “an honest and thorough process” to protect the marine environment and its capacity to provide high environmental values of interest to commercial and recreational fishers.
“This is the beginning of what I expect to be a very full and ample consultation with stakeholders – fishers, scientists, local people...”
This would take into account the need to minimise impacts on industry.
Fishing interests, however, are concerned at previous statements by Mr Garrett, including a speech last month in which, while accepting a WWF award, he expressed an enthusiasm for “the expansion of protected areas” and anti-fisher views previously expressed by some of his scientific advisers.