The fishing community united in a protest against proposed no-take zones.
The fishing community united in a protest against proposed no-take zones.

Convoy protests fishing closures

A “CONVOY against closure” on the weekend saw hundreds of fishing families unite in a major protest against the prospect of fishing closures which would affect a large area of ocean, including no-take zones between Double Island Point and Indian Head on Fraser Island.

Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association president Scott Elms said the rally saw people from Bundaberg to the Gold Coast converge on Clontarf.

“It definitely got the message out there that this is a major issue,” he said.

He warned voters to consider carefully who they will vote for at this month’s election and to also think about their preferences, because a vote for the Greens or Labor was a vote for the end of commercial and recreational fishing in Queensland.

“The Greens want to ban fishing in 30 per cent of Australia’s territorial waters.

“The Labor Party says they are consulting with the public but haven’t and anyway there won’t be any compensation even if they do consult,” he pointed out yesterday.

On the other hand, Mr Elms said the Coalition is saying they will freeze the entire process and start again.

And according to a statement released yesterday by Senator Ron Boswell, the recently announced preference swap between Labor and the Greens almost certainly guarantees the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate from July next year, and there fore that the bid for 30 per cent “no-take” zoning would happen if Labor wins the August 21 election.

“Peter Garrett and Julia Gillard have used the current marine park planning process to fish for Green support using fishermen for bait,” Senator Boswell said.

Mr Elms said there was no scientific basis for the vast closures.

“Whatever you do, don’t give your preferences to the Greens. Our fisheries are being well managed,” Mr Elms said.

He added that government reports had indicated that there were no sustainability issues with any fish stocks in Australia.

As for compensation, some commercial fishers and indigenous groups were likely to get something, however he said a huge number of people would be affected by the closures and would not receive any compensation.

“In a town like Tin Can Bay, a huge number of people are affected, right down to the local 7Eleven or the local pizza shop,” he said.

Mr Garrett has dismissed the Coalition’s appeal to the fishing vote as a populist pitch that was inconsistent with past policy.

He said Tony Abbott was, in fact, promising to suspend a process begun by the Howard government, which created a series of marine reserves off the coast of Victoria and Tasmania.

Gympie Times


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