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Push to reopen Victorian marine parks

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Push to reopen Victorian marine parks

Postby mrfisho Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:27 pm

Tom Arup
Environment editor, The Age

Push to reopen Victorian marine parks to recreational fishing

Some of Victoria's marine national parks would be opened up for fishing under a trial that is being pushed by the state's lead recreational angling group.
VRFish says it is designing a three-year trial that would test the impacts of ''environmentally friendly recreational fishing methods'' in areas that have been ruled out of bounds for anglers for a decade to protect marine biodiversity and breeding sites.
The trial would need state government approval to go ahead, and the lobby group is hoping to win political support for the plan at this year's state election.
The push follows NSW temporarily opening its ''no take'' marine parks to recreational fishers, with the O'Farrell government expected to make the move permanent.

The federal government is rewriting management plans for a swath of recently created Commonwealth marine parks off the West Australian, South Australian, NSW and Northern Territory coasts, with an expectation fishing will be allowed in more areas.
The angling group wants the trial in three of Victoria's 24 marine national parks and sanctuaries. It has gone to tender for a study to support the trial design.
VRFish executive officer Dallas D'Silva identified the Point Addis marine park as a likely candidate. This national park stretches 10 kilometres from Bells Beach to Anglesea and has banned fishing since 2003.
Mr D'Silva said the group was not looking to get recreational fishers into every marine park, and it recognised some areas were sensitive. But he said anglers had been wrongly locked out of some areas and recreational ''line and hook'' fishing would not hurt marine parks' environmental values.
''We are talking about very benign methods and the fact that these were prime fishing spots for mums and dads and families, and all the other social, tourism benefits,'' he said.
However, the prospect of reopening marine national parks to fishing has alarmed many conservationists. Simon Branigan from the Victorian National Parks Association said the push was disappointing as ''it appears that parts of the fishing lobby have been captured by an out-of-touch radical minority of fishers''.
Mr Branigan said only 5 per cent of Victoria's waters were off limits to recreational fishing, and he rejected the activity had no environmental impact. He also questioned whether state funds should be used to lobby for fishing access in marine parks, with the angling group receiving funding from a state government account that distributes money collected from the sale of fishing licences. ''We call for the Napthine government to reject the proposal and rule out spending public money on any fishing trial in marine national parks.''
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the government had not received any proposals from the angling group and was not considering opening up marine parks to fishing.

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Mick


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