COMMENT: Fishy politics

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Fishing is a great way to escape politics!

IT'S an interesting time for an election. There’s the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the growing cost of living and the economy. There’s also climate change and all the usual distractions and trivial election happenings.

Then there’s fishing. Compared to previous elections, the above issues have overshadowed policies relating to fishing. The 2013 and 2019 elections were different, with marine parks taking centre stage in mainstream news and very much on the radar of policy makers.

As fishos, what have we got to lose, or gain, from the various parties at this election? At the time of writing Labor hasn’t made its intention clear on its federal marine park policy. Although Labor has thrown out some hints... Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water Terri Butler MP released a statement during the budget of 2021.

“The Morrison Government’s marine park budget announcement falls grotesquely short of reversing the damage the Liberals and Nationals have done to marine protected areas, after they cut 40 million hectares from Labor’s 2012 plan,” said Butler.

Labor threw its support behind the Government’s recently established Indian Ocean Marine Parks. From all reports, this Marine Park on Christmas Island and Cocos Island still allows recreational fishing and sustainable inshore commercial fishing for local communities.

And given its distance from mainland Australia, especially during the travel bans we’ve experienced over the past two years, it flew under the radar.

My guess is Labor has too much to lose at this election to throw its support behind more federal marine park lock outs given the outcome of the past two elections.

That said, given the shadow Minister’s statement above, it wouldn’t surprise me to see more Greens rhetoric creeping into Labor’s policy in the future.

What about the coalition? It too has a history of marine parks dating back to John Howard. And while these days, the risk of marine park lock outs from a Coalition Government is less than Labor, it’s fair to say its environmental policies fall short of expectations.

Sound environmental policies are critical to the future of our pastime, whether it’s the Murray Darling, Great Barrier Reef or climate change, it’s something we can’t ignore and will make a difference to the quality of our fishing long term.

So it seems Australian fishos are stuck in the middle between a party whose environmental policies go too far and another whose doesn’t go far enough.

Fishos are a diverse lot with a wide range of political views. It’s not our job at Fishing World to try and sway our readers one way or another and we accept, while fishing plays a big role in our lives, so do all of the other day-to-day issues.

Let’s just hope, whoever gets elected remembers the previous two elections and the importance of listening to the needs of one of this country’s most popular pastimes.

Originally published as the 2022 Fishing World June edition magazine editorial. Out now!

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