WITH Cooloola Coast fishing rights set to become a significant federal election issue, organisers of the big Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic say catches at this year's event contradict claims that the fishery is endangered.
Last night's competition weigh-in heard claims that the Federal Government had already shown hostility towards fishers when Fisheries Minister Tony Burke and Environment Minister Peter Garrett snubbed fishing representatives.
Brilliant catches at this year's Mitsubishi Motors Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic continue to defy the weather and politics.
Forecasters are predicting wet weather will continue throughout the rest of the big event, which has been a major money spinner for the town for the past 24 years.
And, with contestants from as far as Western Australia, the political impact of any threat to the event seems set to be felt in electorates across the continent.
A competition spokesperson said yesterday that the event had also made a major contribution to the marketing of the region.
Organisers are among a wide range of Cooloola Coast business interests concerned at the possible impact of a current Federal Government review of fishing rights around Australia.
Many fear a closed “green zone” could be implemented in areas which form a vital part of the town's fishing and tourism economy, ultimately threatening the entire coast economy.
Sunfish chairman Barry Pollock says the issue is a vote winner for the Coalition, with particular concern in regional areas, “mainly from an economic but also from a social lifestyle viewpoint.”
The issue of possible closures generated more heat at a State Government level yesterday, with a clash between Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson and Queensland's acting Sustainability Minister Annastacia Palaszcuk, over a claimed lack of enforcement of fishing bans at the HMAS Brisbane wreck.