IN the lead-up to this weekend's federal election Fishing World sent political parties a series of questions relating to their policies that will affect Australia's 5 million anglers. The full story can be read HERE.
As Jim Harnwell wrote, the questions were sent to the major parties as well as minor and/or special interest parties, "to allow you to make an informed decision about fishing issues when making your vote on September 7".
Jim also wrote that "Despite initially agreeing to take part in our Q&A, Rachel Siewert, the Greens senator responsible for fishing issues, failed to answer any of our questions. How can any of us make an informed decision on what the Greens are proposing if they won't respond to questions about policy platforms?"
Since the story was posted, Fisho has been contacted by a staffer at Rachel Siewert's office who apologised for not replying earlier to our questions and attached the following:
Q1 Will you commit to supporting science-based policies relating to proposed andexisting no fishing zones? In other words, if, for example, there is little or no credible science requiring blanket bans on recreational fishing in commonwealth waters, would you commit to allowing sustainable and carefully managed recreational fishing activities in these areas?
We agree that governments should act based on science. Our fisheries policy states a commitment to: “An evidence based strategy to maintain adequate, representative and comprehensive 'no-take' areas in all marine bioregions for the conservation of marine biodiversity, fish nursery habitat and fish stocks”.
Q2 Will you commit to supporting the appointment of dedicated Minister or Parliamentary Secretary for Recreational Fishing?
The policy initiatives for this election do not include dedicating a Parliamentary Secretary for Recreational Fishing but we recognise the need for Government to develop appropriate policies for recreational fishers in consultation with recreational fishers, separate to those policies created to better manage our commercial fisheries.
Q3 What is your policy position on AFMA being required to assess and consider recreational fishing interests when implementing management protocols for commonwealth fisheries resources?
As per our Community Participation policy, accessible here: http://greens.org.au/policies/community-participation, we support people being involved in government decision-making on matters that affect them, whether as individuals or via a group such as a representative peak body. As indicated in our fisheries policy, we want to see fisheries management maintain sustainable fish populations and fisheries, and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing.
Q4 Will you commit to supporting the official recognition of recreational fishing as a sport? If so, would you commit to support and help fund appropriate policies aimed at developing this concept?
Q5 Will you commit to providing appropriate "seed" funding to allow the recreational sector's peak organisation to (a) fully engage in policy processes and (b) develop business plans to enable long-term sustainable funding?
We do believe that it is important for the sector to be recognised and to have adequate representation that can facilitate better consultation and better policy outcomes for all recreational fishers. Our policy initiatives for this election do not include these matters specifically, but we would be prepared to investigate a proposal of this nature in the next term of Government.
Q6 Will you commit to assisting and supporting the recreational sector to instigate and develop research projects aimed at identifying priority areas for recreational policy development? Would, for example, you support a dedicated research trust fund that can work with existing research funding mechanisms to focus research relevant to the recreational sector?
We do not propose any decrease in the level of funding provided to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.
Q7 Will you commit to opposing any future attempts by commercial fishing operations to introduce “super trawlers” or similar industrial type fishing activities into Australian waters, especially where issues of "localised depletion" are a concern?
Yes we will. Last year, when Australia was facing the prospect of a super trawler in its waters, the Greens were quick to act. We moved a disallowance motion in Parliament and proposed a legislative ban: http://rachel-siewert.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/greens-insert-ban-supertrawler-legislation. As per our fisheries policy, we want a moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in Australian waters and a ban on all factory-ship based fishing in Australian pelagic fisheries.
Q8 What are your policies on the possible introduction of some form of national "fishing licence" to enable more cohesive management and development of recreational fishing activities?
Q9 What are your policies on the possible introduction of national size and bag limits?
For Q8 and Q9: As per our fisheries policy we support a national framework for management of recreational fisheries. A national framework does not necessarily mean national size and bag limits; we consider determination of size and bag limits should be based on what needs to be done to achieve a sustainable fish population within the relevant fishery.
Q 10) Would you support the development of a system of artificial reefs in commonwealth waters to "compensate" anglers for areas lost to marine parks and to further develop sustainable angling opportunities.
Q 11) Would you support initiatives to better develop recreational fishing tourism, especially in regional areas?
Regarding questions 10 and 11, we support marine tourism and recreation, including recreational fishing in regional areas and including artificial reefs, provided it does not cause environmental harm.
12) Do you support and endorse the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) as the peak national body representing the recreational fishing sector?
As per question three, our Community Participation policy, accessible here: http://greens.org.au/policies/community-participation states that we support people being involved in government decision-making on matters that affect them, whether as individuals or via a group such as a representative peak body.
13) Do you have any specific policies relating to recreational fishing which are not covered in the questions above? If so, what are these policies?
Maintaining fish for the future is an increasing challenge as the climate changes, the oceans warm, and the increasing population makes more demands of the marine environment, both directly (eg seafood production, oil and gas extraction from under the seabed, port development, ocean-based recreation) and indirectly (eg chemicals and pollutants making their way into marine environments from terrestrial land use). Our fish stocks are under enormous pressure with some fish species in crisis.
This is why the Greens have campaigned strongly on the issue of marine parks. We believe that evidence based marine parks, some including no-take zones, are a win-win that benefits recreational fishers.
The Greens’ science-based position is that Australia’s marine reserves are necessary to maintain sustainable fish populations into the future, and further, that they assist rather than detract from the ongoing security of recreational fishing. This is because they enhance populations of fish outside the reserve area as well as within it, via spill over effects and by providing a buffer against stock depletion.
In Western Australia, we have also called for $2 million for a full economic assessment of our oceans that will demonstrate the ultimate impact of warmer oceans on Western Australia. This will be an essential driver of early action and investment in mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as showing the value of fisheries management that is responsive to the long term impacts of a changing ocean. The Greens are committed to meaningful action to address climate change and we are the only party standing up for effective measures in Parliament. The other parties are failing to properly address the threats that climate change poses to WA’s fisheries.