Hunt is on to save rec fishing

29 Aug, 2012 11:37 AM
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THE man known for kissing fish and throwing them back is concerned West Australian families will not be able to enjoy the experience of heading to the beach and throwing a line in.

The matter has brought fishing personality Rex Hunt to Perth, where he will take part in a rally this afternoon.

Mr Hunt will join WA recreational fishers at a rally against proposals that plan to ban fishing in areas of WA's coastline.

The 'Don't Lock Us Out' campaign is being run by community group Keep Australia Fishing.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland said the federal government's planned marine reserves would have a detrimental effect on fishers but the decision had no science behind it.

The federal government plans to create a network of Commonwealth marine parks which would cover the South West region.

Under the draft plans, parts of the South West corner from Busselton to Albany will be declared marine national park zones and, therefore, all fishing activity would be banned.

Mr Rowland said he, like many other people who enjoyed fishing as a pastime gladly accepted bag and size limits be put in place to protect at-risk species.

"But we need a good reason for such a blanket ban to restrict access to fishing," he said.

"Where's the assessment of risk posed by recreational fishers?"

Mr Rowland said he was not aware of any extensive research done into the matter.

"We don't believe there's any reason to justify such bans.

"There is no scientific or socioeconomic data or reasons to suggest that recreational fishing has any detrimental effect on these areas and it's important that the government recognises this.

"There's no separation between a rec fisher with a 6 metre long boat and a super trawler 142 metres long."

He said conservation ethics were generally strong when it came to recreational fishers.

"We rely on a healthy marine environment for the pastime that we love," Mr Rowland said.

He said bans of recreational fishing would threaten the livelihood of some regional communities and falsely label recreational fishers as irresponsible.

"What's the harm of mum and dad fishers heading down to Geographe Bay and chucking in some squid jigs?

"The impact of these types of recreational fishers is generally low," Mr Rowland said,

A spokesman for federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the planned marine reserves had been designed to have minimal impact on the recreational fishing sector.

"Those in Perth would have to travel over 65 kilometres to reach the nearest non fishing area," he said.

The spokesperson said science played a pivotal role in the design of the national network of Commonwealth marine reserves.

A consultation period is currently under way on the proposed final Commonwealth marine reserves with submissions closing on September 10.

The minister has indicated that he would like to have the reserves proclaimed before the end of the year.

Hundreds of supporters are expected to rally on the shore and on the water from 4pm to 6pm at Langley Park in East Perth.

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