The ultimate form of self-isolation for many people has been removed by COVID-19 restrictions with authorities banning leisure boating and recreational fishing.
However some states appear to have different views on what is still permissible, with Queensland saying fishing for food is allowed and Victoria threatening harsh penalties for dropping a line.
Federal government restrictions introduced on Sunday night were supposed to mean all recreational fishing and boating for leisure were no longer permitted.
Boating for ‘essential purposes’ including travelling to work, shopping or providing food for families were allowed but waterways were still being used for other activities on Wednesday.
Victoria Police has issued a letter, purportedly to a man confronted on his boat, warning he faced a $1,682 fine if he continued fishing.
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The ultimate form of self-isolation for many people has been removed by COVID-19 restrictions with authorities banning leisure boating and recreational fishing. Volunteer Marine Rescue officers in Queensland’s Whitsunday region interview a couple on a boat near Townsville
A fishing boat is pictured navigating Currumbin Bar on the Gold Coast on April 1. Boating and fishing for ‘essential purposes’ were still allowed in Queensland, according to the Transport Minister, if those activities were to travel to work, shop or provide food for families
The federal government has restricted recreational fishing and boating for leisure amid the COVID-19 crisis but states differ in what those restrictions actually mean. A woman is pictured enjoying a boat trip in Queensland’s Whitsundays on March 31
‘Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic the Prime Minister of Australia has imposed STAGE 3 restrictions on people’s movement and gatherings in public of more than 2 persons,’ the letter states.
‘Recreational fishing is NOT an essential activity or reason to travel.
‘If you choose to ignore or disobey the current level 3 restrictions you can be issued with an Infringement Notice. The penalty fine for individuals is $1682.
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‘We do not want to have to fine people but if you choose to disobey the current restrictions, then remember YOUR decision has a consequence.’
Maritime Safety Queensland [MSQ] had told boat owners on Tuesday that authorities would be at ramps and on the water to ensure people were complying with federal regulations.
‘This applies to all activities that are not specifically exempted – boating is not,’ MSQ general manager Angus Mitchell said.
There are more than three million recreational fishers in Australia, including at least 700,000 in Queensland.
Victoria Police has threatened to fine anyone caught out on the water indulging in recreational fishing or boating with a $1,682 fine
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey later said people in his state could still take their boats out if they were catching fish for their family to eat.
‘If you own a boat and want to head out in the water in your local community to fish for food this weekend, you can,’ Mr Bailey said.
‘If you need your boat to travel locally in your community, you can still do that.
‘State Government boat ramps will remain open to boaties.
‘We want people to continue living their lives as normally as possible under the current circumstances, but the advice of the chief health officer needs to be followed.
‘This isn’t a special rule to let people out on the water for non-essential reasons this weekend.
‘There’s no reason for anyone to be taking the boat out – unless it’s for essential travel to get to work, to and from your home, to local shops for provisions, or catching fish for your family.’
Port Stephens Council has closed its bloat ramps for non-essential use but the message has not been conveyed to all waterway users. Two men aboard a boat are pictured enjoying Port Stephens on March 27. It is not suggested those pictured are doing anything wrong
Marine Rescue NSW has urged boaters and fishers to stay home during the coronavirus crisis
Port Stephens Council has announced on its website that it was closing its boat ramps but signs had not been erected and they were still being used last Friday (pictured)
Before Mr Bailey explained the restrictions Burdekin MP and Opposition Fisheries spokesman Dale Last said any complete boating 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.’
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