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Court sinks port action

Fishermen lost a bid against the GPC for lost funds due to the
Fishermen lost a bid against the GPC for lost funds due to the David Sparkes

A COMPENSATION case brought against the Gladstone Ports Corporation by fishermen affected by a massive dredging project has been struck out in the Queensland Planning and Environment court.

The case was the second led by fisherman Trevor Falzon against the port, claiming costs associated with lost fishing grounds and access due to the huge Western Basin dredging project.

It was filed by numerous other fishers and crabbers who worked in the Gladstone harbour, but none appeared in court, documents show.

Mr Falzon had applied to the court for compensation under the State Government's approval of the dredging project, but failed to specifically quantify his personal "losses" from the project.

The government's approval of the project had demanded compensation be paid to fishermen affected by lost fishing grounds, but only those "significantly adversely affected".

The ports corporation argued Mr Falzon's claim should be struck out because it had not specifically substantiated his personal losses, or whether they were significant.

Judge David Andrew SC late last week struck out Mr Falzon's application for further compensation, with documents showing Mr Falzon's legal team did not define his "losses", but defined his "costs".

Documents filed with the court showed Mr Falzon had suffered more than $400,000 in "costs", including buying longer nets and equipment to trawl deeper waters.

But the court ruled Mr Falzon had suffered "costs" and not "losses", and hence, any such costs could be reimbursed by better catches, confirming the argument put by the port's legal team.

Mr Falzon's lawyers further failed to establish "on material facts" claims he or those attached to the court action were "significantly adversely affected" by the dredging project.

It was the second time a case brought by the fishing industry over compensation for lost fishing grounds has failed, after a previous case failed on a technicality.

A port spokeswoman would not provide details on the status of the rest of the compensation program, but said the court had made a decision and the "legal process has been followed".

Mr Falzon did not return calls, or say whether he would appeal the decision, on Tuesday.

The court is yet to schedule a hearing date for the awarding of costs associated with the case.

Topics:  court, gladstone ports corporation



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