SUBJECT/S: Super Trawlers, Marine Parks, Australian Recreational Fishing Council.

REX HUNT: Well as I said earlier on and I said last week we are going to discuss the election issues without having a whole show. We’re going to get the various parties on to talk to you about their vision and what importance that recreational fishing will play in the development of people in Australia and just as importantly the economic value. As I said Senator Anne Ruston is unavailable to speak to us from the Liberal Party and National Party however Joel Fitzgibbon is the Shadow Minister for Fisheries, I’ve heard Joel speak, he’s a very very keen man who knows his stuff and let’s say good morning to him this morning. To the Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Joel Fitzgibbon thank you for your time Joel.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Great to be with you Rex.

HUNT: And it’s very nice of you to make the effort, I really appreciate that. The hottest topic around for established anglers is the so called super trawler. We’ve covered this ad nauseam but you know bait fish being targeted that sort of thing and all that people want to know today week Joel is what is the Labor Party’s position on the future of super trawlers particularly on the pelagic fishery of South East Australia?

FITZGIBBON: Well as you know Rex we’ve got a pretty strong history and record here. When we were last in government we stopped the activity and last year in the Senate we attempted again to extend that ban in the Parliament but of course the Coalition parties voted against us and we were unable to stop the Geelong Star. We will continue to take up the fight, we are not convinced that these big trawlers can operate without an impact on the pelagic fishery in particular but fishing stocks more generally and we’ll continue to take up the fight. The science is still unclear in our view and until someone can show us that these things can operate without no impact on fisheries then will continue to oppose them. And I learned something else very recently - and I thank Allan Hansard for this - I was down in the Batemans Bay area and I realised then that perceptions in all sorts of human activity including fishing rea lly matter. If people think that there is a super trawler floating around a particular fishery they’ll go elsewhere. That has an enormously adverse impacts on those local regional economies. So I’m yet to see a good argument as to why we should be letting these things operate.

HUNT: And the commitment to the economic, the fiscal economic result of Australia is amazing and what the Shadow Minister is saying Lee is that so many Victorians who used to travel to the South Coast of New South Wales for their pelagic fishery; the broadbill sword fish that sort of thing, the yellow fine tuna and southern tuna, they are going to Portland now and Lakes Entrance so that money is being congregated in Victoria and what the Shadow Minister is saying that you know this has had an impact because the perception is oh the super trawlers – it’s like the netters in Port Phillip Bay – the netters have got them all we’re not going fishing. For any government Lee Rayner who is in power it’s not a good thing if people are dropping off fishing from the perception that the Minister is talking about.

LEE RAYNER: Well on that Rex too you’ve got a trawler that’s worth $30 million that’s what its worth like this fishery verses the recreational striped marlin fishery up the East Coast of Australia which is worth $1.4 billion on its own so you know it doesn’t add up to me.

HUNT: And the thing about it is the Shadow Minister for the Labor Party, Joel Fitzgibbon joins us. Five million Australians go fishing each year. The estimated worth is around $7 billion a year to the economy so that is a very very serious thing. Another contentious issue Shadow Minister is marine parks and I think really that the anglers have got it in the neck in the past but what is your position now because when Tony Bourke was in that position the anglers we’re just saying you’re out but surely there is a compromise where you can still combine responsive recreational fishing with marine parks and preserving the environment for the future generations.

FITZGIBBON: And as you know Rex I’ve been in deep conversation with Allan Hansard and again I thank him for his leadership and stewardship and the relationship that I’ve been able to establish with him because like with you he gives me a lot of advice and a better understanding of the issues. It’s a bit of a shame that the Government wasn’t prepared to join you this morning because they made some pretty big promises you’ll recall before the last election about the marine parks and now they’ve gone completely missing in action. They are sitting on a report and won’t release it and I think they won’t release it because it didn’t give them the answers they were looking for. The fact is - as you know - this is a really difficult issue, I have a completely open mind. I know people believe the basis on which the science is done is incorrect and flawed looking very deep and not in shallow waters where most people fish and I’m more then prepared to continue to have these conversations. But I will say this and it won’t be the popular part, I think we’ve got to avoid this promising to change thing all the time. I think we need stability and predictability. We need to have another go at this and make sure we have the science right. We will stand by the science - I make no apology for that -  but I know that you appreciate the importance for fishers of keeping the marine environment in good shape so I’ve got a very open mind. But I’m not making any big promises on this Rex. The current Government made a big promise and they have now let the fishing sector down. But I’m more then prepared to have another look. And very importantly, you know I announced this Australian Recreational Fishing Council


FITZGIBBON: Last week - and what this is about Rex is giving the rec fishers for the first time, a seat at the decision making table. So if I’m the Minister I’ve got people sitting around me not just giving me advice from the Department of Environment, the Department of Fisheries, you know various scientists etc.   I’ve got the rec fishers at the table with me too and that enables them to not only make a contribution but to contest what other people are saying and I think that is going to be enormously important.

HUNT: Perhaps if you get into government you might shout a cup of tea to an approaching 70 year old ex footballer and fisherman who mightn’t have a university degree but I’ve been around with a lot of people and I think we can help you out and thank you for your time today sir.

FITZGIBBON: A great pleasure Rex.


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