FISH TALES: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at the Australian Fishing Trade Show.
FISH TALES: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at the Australian Fishing Trade Show. Contributed

Tony Abbott goes fishing for votes at trade show

EVEN Tony Abbott and the Coalition realise that there is a huge number of fishers in Australia.

He turned up at the Australian Fishing Trade Show on the Gold Coast this week to win a few votes.

Recreational fisherfolk ran a campaign many elections ago - "I fish and I vote'' - to persuade politicians that the fishing lobby is pretty big and needs to be looked after.

Following the Labor government's proposed changes and expansion of protected marine areas last year, there was plenty of concern about further restrictions on fishers.

Labor said the new protected areas were miles from the coast and would not affect recreational fishers in their tinnies or most pro fishers.

Last year the then environment minister Tony Burke said the marine parks would protect "some incredible marine environments, including the Perth Canyon in the southwest and the stunning reefs of the Coral Sea, and this announcement cements Australia's position as a world leader on environmental protection''.

But not surprisingly the Liberals and the Nationals reckon it is further "over-regulation'' and was to keep the Greens onside.

Mr Abbott turned up to the trade show with Senator Richard Colbeck, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Senator Ian Macdonald, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia among others in tow to tell fishers they would look at the protected marine areas again if elected.

"We will suspend the marine protected areas that this government has recently declared.

"We do not want to lock up our oceans,'' Mr Abbott said.

"We think our oceans should be there to be enjoyed, to be appreciated, to be utilised by future generations of Australians and that will happen under a Coalition government.

"We want the highest possible environmental standards but the last thing we should do is ever declare a marine protected area without the right science, without the right consultation and if it happens without the right compensation and none of that has taken place as part of this Government's processes.''