The West

Fishers put wish list to parties

WA's powerful recreational fishing lobby has put the main political parties on notice ahead of the State election, outlining its wish list for the next four years.

Recfishwest will this morning call on both major parties to commit to measures it says will improve the health of WA fish stocks and the safety and rights of anglers.

Among its priorities will be promises to restock the State's oceans and waterways with popular species such as dhufish and pink snapper and install more artificial reefs to attract fish.

The group, which claims to represent about 700,000 recreational fishers, will also demand fishing safety devices, such as rock bolts, and so-called wilderness fishing zones in marine parks.

The zones would let anglers catch and eat fish inside marine parks but are despised by commercial operators as unfair and conservationists, who say they defeat the purpose of conservation areas.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland conceded wilderness fishing zones were not popular with everybody but said they could be compatible with marine park values.

Dr Rowland also stood by the group's other requests, saying they were reasonable given the popularity of recreational fishing and its contribution to the WA economy, which he estimated at $600 million a year.

"We're looking forward to working with either party to ensure the high quality of recreational fishing that we have in WA, which is an integral part of our lifestyle, is maintained," Dr Rowland said.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore, who will retire from politics after the March 9 poll, said the Liberal Party had already committed to most, if not all, of Recfishwest's requests.

He said wilderness fishing zones and artificial reefs had been delivered under the Liberal Government and the party had pledged money for fishing safety infrastructure and restocking.

Mr Moore also said the Liberals had and would continue to improve the rights of recreational anglers by carving up quotas for species between amateurs and commercial operators.

Shadow fisheries minister Jon Ford was contacted for comment.

The West Australian

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