Fishing crackdown: COVID-19 boating ban ‘defies all logic’
A BAN on recreational boating to stop the spread of coronavirus is firing up North Queensland anglers, who say fishing and crabbing should still be allowed while people self isolate.
While the ban is yet to be confirmed by State Government, Maritime Safety Queensland and VMR organisations have said recreational boating is now off limits.
Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramon Jayo said he "sought clarification from the state" and the answer on whether fishing and crabbing was still allowable was "no".
"Fishing and crabbing is non essential activity and the home confinement directive applies," Cr Jayo said.
"The only permitted circumstance for boating is that for physical exercise. That means non motorised boating. Paddle and rowing etc only. Police are enforcing compliance."
VMR Whitsunday posted that "recreational boating is off the agenda for everyone until further advised".
"As boaties ourselves, we appreciate that this is hard to accept, but we also appreciate that unless we all do the responsible thing then we are potentially prolonging the duration of the restriction, not to mention putting ourselves and others (including VMR volunteers) at risk," they said.
Maritime Safety Queensland said as from Sunday, March 29, federal government direction was that public gatherings were restricted to no more than two persons, excluding household members, and that people should stay home unless they are shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
"This applies to all activities that are not specifically exempted - boating is NOT," MSQ stated.
"The only 'permitted circumstance' in line with the government which might reasonably be considered to include recreational boating is that of physical exercise. Unless you intend to go onto our waterways as part of your overall physical exercise regime, which is most reasonably interpreted as boating in a non-powered craft (ie paddle or such) you should not be undertaking any non-essential movement in line with government directions."
Seqwater has announced that, as from March 26, all recreation areas at Seqwater-managed lakes and parks are closed until further notice.
The Department of Environment and Science has announced the closure of all camping areas within Queensland National Parks, State Forests and recreational areas, while governments have placed restrictions on access to some remote and indigenous communities.
Burdekin MP and fisheries shadow minister Dale Last said the ban "defies all logic".
"Being out in the boat is the ultimate form of isolation. I think this is going overboard and there is more important issues than people going fishing."
About Town Bait and Tackle owner Michael Detenon said a lot of Burdekin people would be devastated by the ban.
He said the shop had seen a few people come through planning to go fishing this weekend.
"The weather is finally coming good on the weekend so definitely a lot of people were looking forward (to getting out)," Mr Detenon said.
He said people were waiting until closer to the weekend to finalise plans but "it was looking good enough people could get out to the reef as well as inshore".
Mr Detenon said he had first heard of the measure from Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramon Jayo on social media however there "is a lot of conflicting information".
He said it was coming into the busy period for the bait and tackle store with Easter coming next week.
Mr Detenon suggested the State Government should look at measures similar to the Northern Territory who had allowed the favourite pastime to go ahead under strict guidelines.
Maritime Safety Queensland also said in the current environment volunteer marine rescue organisations may experience staff shortages and find it difficult to maintain normal levels of service to the boating community should you encounter difficulties on the water.
At this stage, boating compliance officers from Maritime Safety Queensland, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Queensland Police Service will continue to conduct operations and enforce boating regulations, but will ensure their operations are conducted in accordance with social distancing and hygiene requirements.
Originally published as Fishing crackdown: COVID-19 boating ban 'defies all logic'