THE Australian Fishing Trade Association has called for the Queensland Government to honour its election promise and fully implement the three commercial net free zones at St Helens Beach to Cape Hillsborough, Keppel Bay to Fitzroy River and Trinity Bay.
The call comes following reports that the powerful commercial fishing lobby is putting significant pressure on the Government to renege on the net free commitment.
A Government decision on the net free zones is expected early next week.
AFTA President Bruce Alvey said, “If the Queensland Government does not honour its election promise and fully implement these net free zones then it will be snubbing the 650,000 Queenslanders who go fishing each year and spend about $1 billion in doing so.”
“It will also be snubbing the hundreds of communities and thousands of businesses in coastal communities that rely on the economic contribution generated by recreational fishing.
“The economic worth generated by recreational fishing in Queensland is greater than that for many other sectors of the economy, and far exceeds the value of commercial fishing which has an estimated value of about $300 million a year.
“The benefits of creating these net free zones are wide ranging and not only include economic benefits but also environmental and social benefits.
“The proposed net free zones are part of the Reef 2050 Plan, an essential plan to ensure the Great Barrier Reef remains healthy for the enjoyment of future generations.
“In addition, recreational fishing plays an important role in maintaining the social health of our communities by providing an opportunity for Queenslanders of all generations to enjoy and connect with the state’s unique marine environment.
“Many other Australian States are embracing the benefits recreational fishing can bring to their economies and communities.
“For example, Victoria has implemented a target of having 1 million recreational fishers by 2020.
“Key to this policy is a plan to make Port Phillip Bay and other parts of Victoria net free zones.
“The Northern Territory is world renowned for its recreational fishing for barramundi, a reputation built on the establishment of net free zones in the Territory.
“And NSW has created a network of net free zones along its coast, which greatly benefit regional economies that rely on recreational fishing tourism.
“The implementation of the promised net free zones in Queensland is a critical test of integrity and credibility for the Palaszczuk Government.
“The recreational fishing industry urges them to stick to their election promise.
“AFTA looks forward to working with the Government in implementing the three proposed net free zones.”