A seafood festival with no fish while foreign fishing boats invade!

Ausmarine editorial – March 2008

The Federal and state governments' obsessive drive to eliminate Australia's fishing industry has now reached its perfectly illogical conclusion.

I have just learned of the problems of a well-known seafood festival – which I won't name for fear of bureaucratic persecution – which has failed to secure its customary supply of locally caught fish.

The problem, of course, is that the fishing industry has been almost completely eliminated, wasted, from a once proud fishing town. A direct and inevitable result of the combined state and Federal governments' very effective actions aimed at wiping out the fishing industry.

This once highly successful festival has become accustomed to raising some $100,000 annually for charity. At the same time it gave locals and tourists a great time and helped promote Australia's once great and prosperous fishing industry.

Now, the dead and dread hands of malignant, negative and envious national and local bureaucracies have achieved their objective. They have turned a fine fishing town into an almost fish-free, boring sea-change backwater.

I know that this particular festival is not the first, nor will it be the last, in a fishing town to suffer such a fate. It is, though, a classic example of what unintended and tragic consequences we, as citizens, suffer when malicious bureaucrats are allowed to get out of control by disinterested politicians.

The loss of $100,000 of charitable revenues is neither here nor there in the overall bureaucratic scheme of things. The recipient charities will probably just have to put their hands out to government for their money. They may indeed receive it, less, of course, the traditional skim for the cost of bureaucratic handling.

Yet another example of the flow-on effects of the ongoing elimination of this once great, efficient and productive industry.

Throwing petrol on this pyre of victims of bureaucratic malignancy, of course, is the fact that we have now seen the first thin edge of a very thick wedge of foreign fishing boats moving into Australian waters to replace the Australian boats that have been driven out.

A US-based purse-seiner has moved into Eden as a first move to replace the once large fleet of Australian boats that have been driven from that picturesque port. This has been predicted on this page previously. Under the International Law of the Sea Convention, it's a case of use it or lose it. Thanks to the "heroic" efforts of AFMA and most of its state counterparts we are sure as hell not using it. We are doomed, therefore, to lose it (Our fisheries resources, I mean).

The 'Captain MJ Souza' will undoubtedly be only the first of many foreign boats that will move in to fill the vacuum created by Australia's appalling bureaucracy. My Thai friends tell me that they are studying a number of opportunities. You can be sure that AFMA, supported so ineptly by the Clown Law Department, will not stand in their way for long.

What is so tragic about all this is that it really need not have happened. If the fishing industry had united and shown a bit of spine, and raised a small amount of money, it could have been prevented. If industry had appointed or elected leaders and representatives with its interests truly at heart, it could have been prevented. If Australia's politicians had been a bit more attuned to the silent majority rather than the squeaky wheel, it would not have happened.

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