So as time marches on to the 2020 Queensland State election the public get to see how certain members of the recreational fishing community do business with governments of the day.
In most cases fair minded Queenslander would agree that using an dismissing volunteers hours is a great way to treat people of good will. The open letter states, ‘Volunteer efforts should be cherished not squandered’. Who could disagree with such a sentiment. But dig just a little deeper and what is really meant is, ‘We give up our leisure time fishing to sit at meetings, tell you [the State Government] what we want and we expect to get most of what we demand’.
Think back to the vote grab that was the net free zones (NFZs). Maybe that’s all the current State Government were prepared to hand over as a thank you to recreational fishing groups. My educated guess based on the fear in which politicians hold the recreational fishing group vote is that we may see the following:
- Potential expansions to existing NFZs.
- Noosa NFZ.
- Moreton Bay NFZ.
So why be so pessimistic? The biggest challenge facing the State Government is retaining seats in South East Queensland. The State Government has form for announcements a day or two before the caretaker period allowing no time for public scrutiny, this is how they snuck in NFZs by claiming they were a key part of their political platform. It’s like the State Government wants to avoid scrutiny – like not having an estimates process or having any real sense of the current financial situation facing us.
If you calculated the commercial losses of industry volunteering over the last 30 years across advisory groups the losses would be in the millions in terms of lost time and income. The subtle yet key difference between a representative of say Sunfish Queensland and a commercial fisher is that one of them is working to keep a business viable, contribute to the local economy and the other is keenly pursing a leisure activity.
2. The not so veiled threat
The open letter spells out, in some detail the oh so frustrated individuals that had to abandon their leisure time to sit in rooms, tell my industry how best to manage their fishing businesses, support conservation groups where politically advantageous to them and due to a delay in the implementation they are forced to wait. The reform has done nothing to improve the data collected on recreational catch or imposed any burdens on the sector other than reduced bag limits.
Take a few minutes to think about the final sentence in the open letter, ‘The choices and associated consequences sit entirely on your shoulders’. You may need more than a few moments to understand the threat – do as we say or pay at the ballot box.
In 2020 you might think this type of political action was a thing of the past. What would it take for a politician, any politician to come out and publicly call out this crap?
The mum and dad recreational fishers value the importance of the commercial fishing sector in bringing seafood to those who cannot catch it for themselves and the economic benefits the industry provides to coastal and regional Queensland communities.
3. Public Debate
So here’s a challenge to any one of the authors of the letter – the Association will organise a public debate, we jointly identify an impartial moderator and let’s allow the public hear the recreational and commercial fishers debate the so-called fisheries reform process. Hope this can happen because the best disinfectant for bad ideas and bad faith actors on most issues is open debate.
Image: STOP THE LOCKOUT! Facebook page
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