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New Australian government gives clues to recreational fishing policy


The Australian fishing industry and the country’s five million anglers have been given clues as to what the future holds following victory for the Labour Party in the recent federal election.

Key issues for recreational fishing include future policies for marine protected areas, fish aggregating devices, artificial reefs, fish habitat improvements, bluefin tuna quotas, the Murray-Darling Basin crisis, China’s commercial fishing presence in the Pacific and investment in the awareness in the social and environmental benefits of angling.

An insight into what recreational fishing can expect from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his government came in Labour’s ‘summary of policy’ response to the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation prior to the election.

An extract from the response, signed by Josh Wilson, Shadow Minister for the Environment, reads:

“While in the lead-up to the 2019 election we believed there was scope to consider adjustments to marine park zoning, we accept that since then the network has been delivered in a settled form. We agree that certainty in park management is critical and so we don’t intend to revisit that matter outside of the statutory review processes.

“…our oceans and the biodiversity they support are under increasing pressure, including from plastic pollution and climate change, and it is vital we keep pursuing effective protection and restoration efforts. To that end, Labour supports the government’s recent announcement of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island marine parks, and a Labour government will ensure the statutory review processes of the national marine parks network are carried out in a timely and consultative manner. Any changes will be considered on the basis of science and stakeholder consultation.

“We will provide $4 million to small states and territory governments, such as the Northern Territory, to address existing capacity shortcomings in managing state marine parks. We will be proactive in helping to develop the global treaty on marine plastic pollution that was recently agreed.

“…Labour has consistently opposed the operation of foreign ‘super trawlers’ that would undermine the health of Australia’s commercial and recreational fisheries, and we will give consideration in government to a framework that addresses the importation of seafood from fisheries in our region that involve illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices, noting this already occurs in the US and EU.

“We are mindful of the harm caused by invasive marine species and have been critical of the government’s failure to include any Australian marine species in its flawed Threatened Species Strategy 2015-2020.”

Key to implementing policies will be Tanya Plibersek, who has been appointed Minister for the Environment and Water Portfolio, which covers marine parks, and Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Emergency Management, who will cover issues like super trawlers and offshore quotas.

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