AFTA represents the tackle compainies who provide fishing gear to Australia's 5 millioin fishers.
Key issues affecting the fishing trade industry and anglers in general include:
- The development of government sustainability policies;
- National marine park proposals; and
- State regulations affecting bag limits and other rules.
AFTA endeavours to underpin its arguments with sound science and factual information for the benefit of the Australian community and the environment.
The Association launched a National Policy Platform in March 2012 outlining the principles it wishes the Federal Government to use in developing the national marine reserve system.
The platform was launched at a Parliamentary Breakfast attended by over 70 recreational fishers, industry representatives, Government officials, Ministers and MPs.
- The Government should clearly state what environmental values it wishes to protect by declaring marine parks or sanctuary zones.
- The Government should clearly state why it wishes to limit or exclude any existing activities in the proposed areas.
- Where it is proposed to exclude recreational fishing from a proposed marine park or sanctuary zone, there should be a scientific analysis of the effects of recreational fishing on the environmental values the Government is aiming to protect.
- This scientific analysis should explore whether adaptive management techniques such as size and bag limits, catch and release and no anchor zones can be adopted to alleviate any adverse effects on environmental values.
- An economic and social impact assessment should also be conducted to assess the economic and social impact of excluding recreational fishing activities from the proposed marine Park or sanctuary zone.
- Where it is scientifically, economically and socially proven that recreational fishing activities should be excluded from a proposed marine park or sanctuary zone then AFTA will actively support that position and promote the formation of the marine park or sanctuary zone.
- Where it is scientifically economically and socially proven that recreational fishing activities should be excluded from a proposed marine park or sanctuary zone then AFTA would like to see the exclusion from this area compensated by the formation of a recreational fishing only zone that holds similar recreational fishing opportunities to the marine park or sanctuary zone exclusion area.
In other words, recreational fishing should only be excluded from a marine park or sanctuary zone where there is sound, comprehensive science to support this outcome.
Any outcome should also consider the cost to the economy and local communities of excluding recreational fishing from the proposed areas.
Locking out recreational fishing from marine parks and sanctuary zones is akin to locking out bushwalkers from terrestrial national parks. It should only be done if there is a well-founded scientific reason to do so.
It should also be remembered that recreational fishers are often the eyes and ears on our seas and oceans. There have been countless examples where it is the recreational fishers that have reported illegal fishing activities or environmental incidents to authorities.