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   October comment from Ben Collins, Editor Bush 'n Beach Fishing magazine

RECENTLY I was invited to meet with Queensland Fisheries Minister John McVeigh. Fortunately it appears more people than just my mum read my editorial. I was buoyed by this opportunity to discuss a few current issues in regards to fishing.

The main topic of discussion was the upcoming Queensland Fisheries Management Review; however I did get the chance to cover some other topics. As you may have read in recent editorials, I’ve given the Government a bit of flack about a number of issues but in particular the make-up of the committee that is heavily biased towards the commercial sector.

I think it is part of my job to try to keep the broader fishing fraternity abreast of current issues and possibilities. The meeting was relatively informal, which was good as it allowed me to gain a true perspective of where the Government is heading.

To cut a long story short, the main reason for the bias towards the commercial sector is that a big part of the review is to simplify the Fisheries Act, which is relevant to commercial fishers. The Minister has written a response to a number of issues on Page 7 of this edition.

I must commend him for having the integrity to act and actually make a change, as it will be a massive task. However it is vital that recreational anglers still have their say. Recreational fishing is big business, with several billion dollars being pumped back into the economy each year.

But something that has been highlighted over and over again is that the recreational fishing community in general is a little lax in putting pen to paper or sending emails pertaining to important issues. I’m not totally sure why this is. Maybe it’s that fishing is just a recreation and we don’t have a single body looking after our interests and pointing us in the right direction. But this is something that I think must change.

I don’t know the exact answer, but recreational anglers need a non-profit body independent of the Government to deal with important issues. Whether this body comes under Marine Queensland on a state level or Keep Australia Fishing, the Boating Industry Association of Australia banner or something totally different on a federal level, I’m not sure, but it needs to happen.

While not all anglers are going to have the same opinion, at least if we have an organisation to represent us there will be more chance of information about issues being delivered and you can then act or vote with an informed opinion.

Unfortunately we need to pick up our game when it comes to campaigning and having a voice. Especially since on the other side of the coin, Green groups are exactly the opposite, with almost militant-like operations when they are called to arms, which is usually done via sending a multitude of emails and making numerous phone calls.

So now is the time to expand on I fish, I boat and I vote and add ‘write a note’ so you can have your say.

Ben Collins