New policy wins over fishers
THE Coalition’s election campaign efforts to win over the fishing industry have ended with resounding success after the release of a new fishing industry policy document.
One local industry leader, ECOfishers NSW head Ken Thurlow, of Byron Bay, yesterday gave the new document an enthusiastic welcome, saying one of its most important points was that the industry had a direct hand in putting it together.
The campaign has included a lot of debate over plans for a series of giant offshore marine parks, first proposed by the Howard Government, which fishers fear could leave them banned from fishing in their local waters.
However, the Coalition’s new policy goes well beyond marine parks. It covers 16 areas, such as increasing research and development funding, helping the industry adjust to climate change, improving aquaculture, and combating illegal foreign fishing, to name a few. On the subject of marine parks, it commits to, among other things, basing the parks on peer-reviewed science.
Richmond Liberal candidate Joan van Lieshout, Page Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan and Richmond Nationals candidate Alan Hunter said the participatory approach used in developing the fishing policy could, and should, be adopted in other areas of policy development.
Mr Hogan said fishers had spent decades trying to work sustainably and had a history of imposing their own temporary ‘no take’ areas to help conserve fish stocks.
Mr Hogan also questioned the effectiveness of marine parks, saying they could cause more severe overfishing in other areas and in other countries.
Ms van Lieshout said the policy was put together in a matter of weeks, showing what could be achieved when local communities, local politicians and political parties worked together on an issue.
Ms van Lieshout said it was important local groups be able to help formulate policies that had a direct impact on them.
Mr Hunter agreed, saying community involvement in policy formulation gave a sense of ‘ownership’ of apolicy.