The ARFF position on the Commonwealth’s Marine Park reserve network is clear and unchanged. ARFF supports a Commonwealth Marine reserve network that is representative and based on sound environmental, economic and social science. However, ARFF believes that Australia’s recreational fishers should not be excluded from Marine National Park zones (IUCN category II) unless there is a sound scientific reason why they should be excluded. ARFF does not consider the Government’s determination that recreational fishing is an ‘extractive’ activity is correct. This determination is the basis for excluding Australia’s recreational fishers from over 1.3 million square kilometres of proposed Marine National Parks and does not distinguish the difference between industrial scale commercial fishing activities and those of a recreational fisher. It also does not take into account the fact that Australian recreational fishers practice sustainable adaptive management and can adopt catch and release and other techniques in areas that require high environmental protection, such as Marine National Parks. The Government in the past has allowed recreational fishing activities in Marine National Parks (IUCN II zones), at the discretion of the Director of National Parks, subject to regulations outlined in the management plan for the area. The Ningaloo Marine National Park in Western Australia is an example of this. We ask the Government to apply this same discretion and allow recreational fishing activities in the proposed Marine National park (IUCN II) areas for the Commonwealth Marine reserve network. If there is a change in the Government’s thinking on access for recreational fishing to Marine National parks (IUCN category II) then we wish to see the scientific reasoning as to why the Government now wishes to exclude recreational fishers from these areas. We consider that for the Government to say all recreational fishing is an extractive activity therefore it is not allowed access to Marine National parks, is not good enough. ARFF also does not agree that Australian recreational fishers are excluded from Marine National parks (IUCN category II) when other activities such as diving, tourism activities, defence activities, container and bulk carriers are allowable activities in these areas. Australia’s recreational fishers are the largest stakeholder group affected by the Government’s decision to establish 1.3 million square kilometres of Marine National Parks that exclude them. On their behalf ARFF requests that the voice and views of recreational fishers be considered in the development of the management plans for the Commonwealth Marine reserve network.
Any decision on whether the Super Trawler should fish Australian waters should not be made before the scientific assessments and reviews of Australia’s fisheries management systems have been completed. There is a reason Australia’s recreational fishers strongly opposed the Super Trawler and that is that the science was not there on the effects of the Super Trawler on localised bait stocks or their movements. Nor do we have the required information on the implications for the marine food chain, existing recreational and commercial fishing and the communities that rely on them. We cannot make informed decisions on whether the Super Trawler should fish until we have that scientific, economic and social foundation. We ask the Federal Government to stick to its word and follow through with the process to improve the science and management of our fisheries.