Election candidates talk fishing

THE major parties are trolling for votes in the Bundaberg region by pushing their widely opposite viewpoints on sustainable fishing in both the commercial and recreational sectors.

But fishers of both types are refusing to take the bait, saying the government is intent on closing down fisheries right around Australia.

Tackle World owner Don Robinson (pictured) said when the government instituted closures in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park they closed the part where all the fish were.

“If you close half the fishing area, what happens to the other half? It gets overfished,” he said.

He said the marine park planning process under way now was not about fisheries, but about the government's own agenda.

John Olsen, who was president of the Queensland Seafood Industry Association in 2004 when the reef closures went into effect, said it had a serious impact on the industry.

“Lots and lots of people went out of the industry — it had a huge impact,” he said.

Fraser Coast Sunfish president Scott Mitchell said data indicated the recreational fishing in Queensland was worth more than $700 million to the economy every year.

“Recreational anglers are warned to be aware that this federal election could seriously affect their favourite pastime,” he said. Mr Mitchell said he did not believe any recreational angler could afford to vote Labor.

A Gillard government statement claimed the Coalition was deliberately misleading fishers and their families and causing unnecessary concern.

The party's candidate for Hinkler Belinda McNeven expressed the need for balance between protecting marine habitats and maintaining the local seafood industry.

“Access to local seafood is very important. Fishing, both recreational and commerical is a big part of Hinkler's economy,” she said.

“There are parts of the marine environment that require protection, but that should increase fish stocks.”

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said a Coalition government would suspend the marine bioregional planning process, and establish sensible marine park boundaries and management plans in full consultation with industry.

“The marine protected areas will be based on science, with all evidence of threats to marine biodiversity made available to all stakeholders in a fair and balanced consultation process,” he said.

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