Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW: After the election...

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THE federal election result won’t have an immediate effect on our fishing in NSW, but it does have some longer-term implications for commonwealth and state marine parks. It was disappointing that there was no overall recreational fishing policy published by Labor prior to the election, apart from promises not to make changes to Commonwealth Marine Parks lock-outs for the time being. But in an April letter to the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (of which the RFA of NSW is a member) and other fishing and boating organisations, Josh Wilson, the MP Shadow Assistant Minister for the Environment at that time, wrote "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 that time 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."

Those "statutory review processes" include management plans established in 2013 with the next statutory review in 2023. An internal audit has already been conducted by Parks Australia (which administers the plans) and will be put out for review by end of 2022.

Wilson then went on to write "...Labor supports the government’s recent announcement of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island marine parks, and a Labor government will ensure the statutory review processes of the national marine parks network are carried out in a timely and consultative manner, with any changes 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,"

There are other issues around recreational fishing that we will follow with interest under Labor, including Commonwealth actions in the Murray-Darling Basin, the possibility of a greater Chinese commercial fishing presence in our waters (especially the Pacific), and the stronger influence of the Greens in the Senate. The Greens say they are committed to banning offshore exploration and seismic testing, spending $50 million on wetlands and coastal restoration and extending the ban on super-trawlers to include 95-metre vessels... but they also propose to expand the network of Marine Protected Areas.

A lot of our concerns don’t get as much attention as other national problems such as the economy, climate change, housing, health services, etc., but this is going to be a very interesting year to watch how Federal issues pan out and we see how NSW politicians demonstrate their interest—or lack of interest—in recreational fishing leading up to the NSW state elections in early 2023.

First published on the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW RecFisher newsletter.

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