THE US-based anti-fishing organisation Pew has admitted it pressured the Australian Government to lock anglers out of vast areas of the Coral Sea but would not take the same action in American waters because it would harm the US economy and disadvantage local fishermen.
The Pew comments have outraged Australian anglers, who stand to be seriously disadvantaged by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke's decision to support the American organisation's sustained anti-fishing campaign.
In a letter published in the August edition of the US-based Sport Fishing magazine, Pew director of federal fisheries policy Lee Crockett said closing American waters to fishing "wouldn't make sense – for fishing enthusiasts or the environment".
Crockett was responding to an editorial by Sport Fishing editor-in-chief Doug Olander predicting that Pew's no-fishing campaign in Australia's Coral Sea would result in similar moves to lock American anglers out of the Gulf of Mexico.
Crockett said Olander's assertion was "misleading and incorrect". He claimed the push to close the Coral Sea to all angling was supported by "hundreds of thousands of people throughout Australia and around the world – including recreational anglers".
Crockett went on to say that closing the Gulf of Mexico to fishing wouldn't make sense because these waters are a "major US economic driver".
"The Gulf offers excellent angling opportunities, and sport and commercial fishing generates billions of dollars and fresh seafood to much of the (American) nation," Crockett said.
The Pew campaign to lock-up the Coral Sea has resulted in Minister Burke proposing to ban all fishing in about 1.3 million square kilometres of water. Other closures proposed by Mr Burke include large areas off the southwest of WA and in South Australia.
The admission from Pew that it preferred to focus its lockout campaigns in non-American waters has confirmed suspicions held by local angling organisations that extremist environment groups like Pew sees Australia as an "easy target".
"These revelations back up what many Aussie anglers have been saying for a long time," a spokesman from Keep Australia Fishing, the peak activist group representing Australia's 5 million anglers, told Marine Business.
"These people working for Pew in America don't want to disadvantage their own economy – but they don't mind that happening over here. They don't want to lock American anglers out of prime fishing areas – but they are happy to have exactly that happen to Aussie fishos. Why did our Government listen to these guys?"
Pew's Lee Crockett describes in his letter to Sport Fishing as an "avid angler" and provides details of the outstanding sportfishing he has enjoyed in the Gulf of Mexico. Australian anglers will no doubt be pleased to know that Crockett will be able to continue to enjoy his fishing exploits in his home waters while anglers over here endure the lockouts he and his Pew cohorts have seemingly convinced our Government we need to have!
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