Qld 2020 News Posts #02: The End of Fence Sitting

Posted in Industry News

Sporting fans pick a team to support and follow – trusting in their best players  to deliver them a win – trouncing the “enemy” on the field.  Australians pride themselves as supporters of a fair go and  backing their team or country when it counts. So how necessary is being  politically neutral when it comes to setting a course of action for the team and their supporters?

The speeches presented in Townsville at a recent agriculture rally provided a platform for many speakers and included the Green Shirts Qld.  The speeches raised many issues regarding food production and those that spend their lives either farming or commercial fishing. Martin Bella’s speech in particular raised an issue that has probably troubled industry groups for decades – remaining apolitical in the politically charged climate that primary producers work and live in each day is no longer an option.

The commercial fisheries system in Queensland is nothing but political. Why have industry associations in Queensland remained apolitical?  The focus of this news post is to explore questions / concerns and provide some issues for consideration.

We define fake green groups as being either a cashed-up, foreign controlled environmental advocacy organisations and/or domestic activists opposing food production across many industries and more recently the greedy minority recreational activists masquerading as environmentalists to transfer the community resources away from the wider community.

Future posts will discuss in greater detail the political difference between the average mum and dad recreational fisher and recreational fishing group advocates.  It should also be noted that those backing fake green organisations and recreationally fishing have missed the big picture.  Once fake green groups completely undermine commercial fishing, who do you think their next target will be?  No form of fishing is safe when there are groups that are ideologically opposed to human interaction with the marine environment.

1) Why maintain an apolitical stance?

Conventional wisdom dictates that being apolitical meant industry could work with both sides of politics for some kind of gain.  The so-called fisheries reform suggests that no amount of working with an ideologically ‘fake green’ government has led this industry to the position it finds itself now.

2) Politicking

In Queensland there many groups advocating for some aspect of commercial fishing, here are some groups – Carefish and WWF Australia.  These groups are passionate advocates for a cause and in the pursuit of their goals have generated nothing but pain, suffering and a loss of regional and coastal business activity amongst commercial fishing families.  Is there evidence for this?

2.1) Carefish (Introduction of the net free zones)

‘But Paul Aubin, from the recreational fishing group, Carefish, has welcomed the move to ban the use of gill nets from Trinity Bay in Cairns.  Mr Aubin says it’s been a long battle and even the commercial fishers are willing to go, if compensated fairly for their loss of entitlement. He says only three net fishers remain in the area and there’s no reason they can’t fish elsewhere.  Those fishermen have established area outside this small area that we’re asking for in Cairns, they only have to move a couple of hundred meters off the beach so it’s no big deal for them to do that’.

Quote source: ABC Rural, Cameron Brown, 4 March 2015, ‘Fish fight brewing as Queensland fishers demand consultation over commercial net-fishing ban’.

The Carefish approach is one of entitlement, as if the marine resource belongs to recreational fishers alone.  There was never any discussion about the link commercial net fishers have with the region in which they fish.  The commercial industry has a strong connection to where they work and live.  Carefish’s political position is clear – recreational fishing deserves special treatment.

2.2) WWF Australia (Commercial net fishing)

‘Over-fishing and irresponsible practices can also threaten the wider marine environment. If used incorrectly, fishing gear can also damage reefs and other sensitive ecosystems, as well as the marine species living there’.

Quote source: WWF Australia, Joshua Bishop, 31 October 2014, ‘Fishing for facts about seafood’.

In essence, WWF Australia chose not to recognize bycatch reduction devices, no recognition that commercial fishing cannot take place in green zones and no recognition that commercial fishing in areas like marine parks is a legal and legitimate activity.

So, what can we take away from these examples?  First and foremost, any group (individual) is entitled to an opinion political or otherwise.  What groups like Carefish and WWF Australia are not entitled to do is undermine food producers.  The sad reality is they have helped to create a situation that puts Queensland regional jobs and the potential for industry growth at risk.

These groups have clear political agendas – to minimise your access to seafood in two ways – by excluding commercial fishing from a coastal location or create hysteria that the presence of commercial fishers is a danger to the environment.

3) What needs to change?

There is risk in taking a position political or otherwise but after 3 decades of trying to work with government and fisheries management the end result has been less and less access to commercial fishing grounds, political power gifted by weak governments to fake green and recreational groups and public misinformation regarding the sustainability of our fisheries.

The agriculture/fisheries policy space is complex, for policy in this space to work requires (at minimum): (1) scientific data, (2) a spin free debate, (3) genuine good will from key stakeholders which means real dialogue and (4) a long-term strategic vision.  What we have at the moment is (1) a reliance on emotion versus scientific data, (2) spin from recreational and environmental groups, (3) partisan resource greed from recreational fishing groups and (4) A-grade politicking from the current State Government.

What would the policy debate look like if dozens of industry bodies in this State worked together to call out fake green groups?  The Association’s hope is other industry bodies will take their own stand to push for change in October 2020.

Qld 2020 is our response to what is a policy and leadership void in the fisheries management space.  The Association is very aware that the State Government and our detractors don’t want a conversation around what their tactics are, who it might impact and that in the overall scheme of things, Queenslanders are being misled.

In summary, Qld 2020 is about: a fair go – for food producers, their families and regional / coastal small business job creators.

Author / Image: Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).

This message is endorsed by and proudly brought to you by the QSIA under the Qld 2020 campaign in the interests of achieving better fisheries management for industry and the community.  Qld 2020 is about: a fair go – for food producers, their families and regional / coastal small business job creators.

Qld 2020 News Posts #01: Fake Green Groups