Protest to put fishing on agenda

FISHING families from Bundaberg to Tweed Heads will join together tomorrow in a major protest involving two separate convoys of vehicles and boats heading from Gympie Showgrounds and the Gold Coast to Clontarf.

The protest has been organised by an alliance of commercial and recreational fishers, with support from Cooloola Coast businesses in the marine, accommodation, grocery, trade and professional services industries.

In our region, the issue is the prospect of fishing closures affecting a large area of ocean out hundreds of kilometres from the coast, between Double Island Point and Indian Head on Fraser Island.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has warned there will be some closures as a result of his current review of fishing rights.

The emails have been running hot in anticipation of tomorrow’s protest convoy, which echoes one organised at the Cooloola Coast in response to earlier state government plans to restrict vehicle access to Coast beaches.

Mr Garrett has told The Gympie Times there will be some closures in selected areas where they are deemed necessary to protect the environment and the future of the fisheries.

However, Mr Garrett has said we are now at the beginning, not the end, of a lengthy process of public consultation and scientific research.

Promising a “fair dinkum process,” he has said he is continuing a protective policy started under the Howard Coalition government.

Cooloola Coast fishing interests have expressed doubt and alarm over the review, claiming some of Mr Garrett’s scientific advice is biased by assumptions that fishing is bad for the environment, even in areas where fish are still plentiful after generations of trawling and angling.

They say they fear the effects of what many say seems to be an anti-people reflex by many in the conservation movement and an assumption that the fishery is endangered.

And they say this is countered by the real scientific information available with regard to continuing and undiminished fishing catches achieved by commercial seafood operations.

It also seems to be contradicted by some of the amazing amateur catches recorded at this year’s spectacular Mitsubishi Motors Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic.

Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association president Scott Elms yesterday reported heavy email traffic from fishing and business interests eager to take part in the protest convoy.

The aim of the protest is to place fishing firmly on the national election agenda in electorates all around Australia.

And protesters say they fear any closures by the Commonwealth could prompt a further me-too round of State Government closures, including in the Great Sandy Straits.

Participants are urged to get to Gympie Showgrounds early to begin the convoy at 8.30am.

Gympie Times

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