Green groups against fishing
TWO of the world's most influential conservation groups have launched an openly aggressive campaign against amateur and professional fishing along the Cooloola Coast and over many areas of Australia's coastline.
Cooloola Coast fishing, tourism, boating and other business interests this week launched an equally aggressive defence, with a 320km protest car-and-tinnie convoy from Gympie to Clontarf and back, to raise public awareness of likely economic and lifestyle consequences.
Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association President Scott Elms said the conservation proposals involve pressure on the Federal Government to close large areas of Australia's fishery, potentially threatening the retail availability of Australian-caught seafood and the right of Australians to go fishing.
Mr Elms' concerns were borne out on Thursday with a joint statement by major international green organisations, WWF and Humane Society International.
Both organisations called for a massive proportion of Australia's ocean territory to be protected from all fishing effort, suggesting the area of protected ocean should equal the much larger area of Australian land territory classified as “highly protected”.
This is despite the fact that this would involve a much higher proportion of ocean territory, which is a much smaller area in total.
Despite claims by federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett and his staff that the issue is still subject to public consultation, Cooloola Coast business interests said claimed consultation so far has been far short of meaningful.
Mr Elms and Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce President Peter Todd have both warned serious restrictions on recreational and charter fishing would wreck the area's fragile tourist economy.
The convoy will take place on August 1, leaving Gympie Showgrounds at 8.30am and arriving at Clontarf boat Ramp at 10.50am. Protest organisers say more than 13,000sq km of ocean fishing is threatened.