AN UNNAMED green group has triggered a Federal Government inquiry that could lead to a ban on recreational fishing.
The group’s call for a ban means the Government is obliged to review its merits, a move that has stunned VRFish, Victoria’s peak angling body.
“We had to check the calendar to see if it was April 1 — regrettably it was not,” VRFish general manager Dallas D’Silva said.
A similar move four years ago was rejected.
An Environment Department spokesman said legislation provided for an annual call for “key threatening processes” to be assessed by a scientific panel.
The spokesman would not reveal the identity of the group, which nominated “recreational fishing which results in the capture of top-order predators such as sharks, tuna and marlin, including competition game fishing, offshore fishing, line fishing and other fishing methods” as a key threatening process.
“It will be considered, along with other nominations, by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee as part of advising the Minister for the Environment on which nominations are a priority for assessment,” the spokesman said.
There are 3.4 million Australians who fish regularly, with 838,000 recreational anglers in Victoria.
Animal activist groups have ramped up their opposition to recreational fishing, claiming it affects more animals than any other human-based animal industry.
Animals Australia says “fish are conscious beings that feel pain and distress” and “suffer an extended death through suffocation”.
An Animals Australia spokeswoman said it was not responsible for the nomination, although it actively campaigned against fishing.
Greenpeace also said it was not responsible for the nomination and PETA Australia said it “could not claim credit for the application” but would support it.
In rejecting the 2012 nomination of recreational fishing, the Government’s scientific assessment panel said the physiological effects and survival rates of catch-and-release of game fish were “important issues that require further research and consideration” but “the case for the threat being significant at the species level is not quantified”.