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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says a new $29 million package to support recreational and commercial fishing will help to attract more visitors to enjoy Gippsland’s waterways and coastline.

Mr Chester said municipalities in Gippsland would be able to apply for a share of $20 million to upgrade, maintain or build new boating, marine rescue, fishing and camping facilities.

“Gippsland’s natural environment, including its many waterways and coast, is a major tourism drawcard,” Mr Chester said.

“If the Federal Government is re-elected, this funding will be available to help local councils to upgrade public facilities to meet growing demand from those who love to get out and enjoy nature, whether that’s by casting a line or pitching a tent.

“Better facilities will make a day out on the water or in the bush easier and more enjoyable. Investing in infrastructure like boat ramps, shared pathways and camp sites will complement Gippsland’s array of natural attractions and encourage people to get active, more often.

“It will also increase the number of visitors to our towns and the length of their stay, which in turn supports local businesses.”

The Federal Government package also includes:

• $8 million for habitat restoration in marine and estuarine habitats;
• $600,000 for a mental health trusted advocate program trial for the fisheries sector;
• delivery of a National Fisheries Plan to grown the industry together with recreational, commercial, Indigenous and aquaculture fishers;
• develop a Commonwealth Fisheries Resource Sharing Framework that outlines the rules for sharing resources across the fishing sectors and between the Commonwealth and other Australian jurisdictions; and
• $400,000 for capacity building for fishing representatives to ensure relevant fishing sectors are included in decision-making and maximise their contribution.

Mr Chester said government support for recreational and commercial fishers made economic sense.

“Around one in five Australians are recreational fishers, while the commercial fishing sector supports thousands of jobs and businesses,” Mr Chester said.

“Commercial fishing and the visitor economy are very important to Gippsland and I think we can strike a balance to make sure both sectors thrive.”

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