Home' Afloat : AFLOAT December 2016 Contents Take monthly with water December 2016 61
with David Lockwood
Fishers and hunters are oft portrayed
as rednecks. Academics view us as
unwashed, uneducated and, what’s
the mot du jour, oh, deplorable. Although
I am far from right or left wing, I can’t help
but notice the strong message being belted
out from these social underclasses that
they will take the threats to their licence to
fish, hunt and enjoy the outdoors no more.
This groundswell of discontent with
marine parks, fishing bans, boating and
anchoring closures, tenuous livelihoods,
marine businesses and the simple right to
wet a line for sanity’s sake has reached the
point that politicians are finding they’re the
ones with a questionable future.
It looks like the days of the nanny state
are over. People are fed up. They are sick of
Big Brother. They just want to enjoy their
freedoms and engage with nature. As a
vehicle to do that, fishing has no equal.
It’s part of our psyche and many of us are
making a point of showing tomorrow’s
fishers how to cast a line.
As 2016 comes to a close and Sydney
anglers are left on tenterhooks awaiting
their fate in the imminent Marine Parks of
the Hawkesbury Shelf Bioregion – the most
popular and populous fishing and boating
playground in Australia between Newcastle
and Wollongong – pollies should heed the
global voter trends for their own future.
Politicians who challenge the basic
rights of the community to fish, their social
licence to interact with nature, and who
apply undue layers of bureaucracy and
cost, do so at their own risk. Fishers and
boaters in America were instrumental in
the election of Trump.
Here, it’s hard talking about fishing and
hunting without left-leaning ideologues
branding us rednecks. So that’s the
message from the middle ground in 2016.
We fish and we vote. The tide has turned.
The fishing and boating communities are
mobilising. The inaugural national Gone
Fishing Day held in October this year was
a turning point. It will be interesting seeing
how 2017 plays out on the Sydney Marine
Breaches in Port Stephens
It says something that after more than
a decade of being established, the Port
Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park remains
a source of discontent. The policing in
the park is aggressive, the indiscretions
by anglers are often just that, while the
rationale behind locking up famous fishing
grounds around places like Seal Rocks still
makes no sense to many of us.
High profile fishing personality and
angling spokesman Alistair McGlashan
came down hard on NSW Fisheries after
a recent press release announcing more
than 20 offences had been reported in the
Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park in
a six-week period in late 2016.
“It is disappointing to see NSW
Fisheries are exerting so much effort into
enforcing the failed Port Stephens Marine
Park when there are so many bigger issues
on the cards.
“Locking up huge tracts like the whole
of Seal Rocks purely for the scuba divers
is a disgrace – whatever happened to
catch and release zones? Or is this a sign
of increased lockouts coming? ” he wrote.
The Compliance Director Pat Tully at
the NSW Department of Primary Industries
said infringement notices totalling $5,600
were issued for fishing offences including
fishing and possession of fishing gear
within sanctuary zones including Seal
Rocks, contravening special rules within
habitat protection zones, and failing to
pay the recreational fishing fee.
NSW DPI makes the point that Marine
Park Zoning Maps are available for smart
phones and tablets via the Avenza PDF
Maps app and the FishSmart mobile app,
which are free to download. The maps
allow you to identify your location in a
marine park and what types of activities
are permitted in each zone.
Mr Tully said protecting the diversity in
our marine parks is crucial to ensuring that
we maintain these amazing areas to enjoy
and to pass them to future generations.
Fact is, these fishing misdemeanours
have no bearing on biodiversity at all. As
McGlashan said, there are bigger fish to
fry in regards to marine threats than a few
anglers driving through a zone with rigged
rods in their holders or an outdated licence.
At the same time, a commercial-scale
aquaculture trial has started off Port
Stephens, with the stocking of a new sea
pen with yellowtail kingfish fingerlings. But
all is well, as the farm is not in the Marine
Park, just a few miles outside it.
Tight Lines for 2017
We’ve fought some good fights on the
fishing front in 2016 via this popular column
and would like to take this opportunity
to thank every reader and letter writer
for sharing your views and thoughts. It’s
been a choppy year, there’s a lot of change
and uncertainty, but fishing and boating
remain a constant source of enjoyment,
escapism, if not the meaning of life. Have
a great Christmas and may your rods arc
and lines zing through the guides. See you
out there in nature’s playground, fishing
for today and tomorrow. h
shaping the future
SBS Fishing guide Craig McGilll
from Fishabout Charters with a
Sydney Harbour Kingfish.
Sydney Harbour Jewfish.
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