THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the recognised national peak body for all Australian recreational fishers, has come out in national media voicing discontent with Labor's threat to dismantle the zoning and management plans for the Commonwealth network of marine parks, legislated through parliament last year. ARFF is concerned with Labor's possible plans to revert back to the Tony Burke draft plan for Marine parks of 2012, whole heartedly opposed to the proposal.
"Labor's plan to turn back the clock to a set of Marine Park plans will draw a heated response from Australia's estimated 5 million recreational fishers." ARFF Chair Brett Cleary told Fishing World, one of the biggest recreational fishing information platforms in the country.
"Those 2012 plan were unscientific and unworkable and the prospect of reverting back to them is extremely disrespectful of the consultation process and to the recreational fishers who consider themselves as some of the greatest marine conservation advocates. Recreational fishers have continuously supported and endorsed a network of Commonwealth Marine Parks and we believe the zoning and management plans agreed to over 2018 achieve the right balance between conservation and an evidence-based approach to the sustainable use of our aquatic resources."
"We had hoped Federal Labor had learnt from the marine park plan disaster in NSW which erupted in community outrage leading to that plan being dumped."
On a positive note, ARFF did praine pledged investment into recreational fishing related infrastructure and restoring fish habitats to grow and improve recreational fishing experiences. Labor has pledged a recreational fishing package to establish a $45 million Recreational Fishing fund, a $10 million program to replenish native freshwater fish stocks and $0.5 million towards a Give Back to Habitat campaign.
A re-elected Coalition Government has pledged $20 million towards infrastructure in a Fishing and Camping program, an $8 million investment in fisheries habitat restoration and $0.4 million for capacity building for recreational fisher representatives.
"We estimate recreational fishers spend around $10 billion annually, so this level of pledged investment is still only a drop in the ocean of what's required to grow our sector."
ARFF is disappointed that neither of the major parties have recognised the need to adequately resource the national peak body to enable it to effectively carry on its role as the official voice for all Australian recreational fishers.