Seafood industry rep blasts compensation package

THE seafood industry has blasted a compensation package released by Gladstone Ports Corporation on Wednesday, calling it "totally inadequate and a shameful failure".

The package is designed to compensate commercial fishermen for loss of income on Gladstone Harbour during construction of the LNG projects.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) Chairman Michael Gardner said fishermen and other seafood-related business operators in the region were bitterly disappointed by the package.

"What has been proposed by the GPC is completely inadequate and it is an insult to affected business operators and their families," Mr Gardner said today.

"I am not talking simply about the amount of money offered to fishermen. This proposal still reflects the original problem: the full area of water affected and the full range of impacts on seafood-related businesses have still not been recognised.

"The original environmental impact statements, or EISs, compiled by the LNG companies were inadequate and deficient because they never attempted to predict or assess the full range of impacts on the seafood industry, as they are required to do.

"The attitude of the GPC has been dismissive of the fishing industry. The GPC was never interested in even looking at the impacts of the Western Basin Development on the fishing industry other than the area associated with the dredging. The whole process has been a shameful failure.

"In fact, there is a far broader range of impacts that are harming a wider range of fishermen and related businesses.

"These include impacts caused by such things as water turbidity, including the plume of muddy water trailing away from the dredge spoil dumping area closely adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

"This has been clearly shown on satellite imagery from James Cook University, where the dredge plume extends well beyond the area claimed by the GPC.

"For example, fishermen bringing in live coral trout have had fish die because mud in the water pumped through the live fish tanks clogged the gills of the fish.

"Trawl fishing has been disrupted by dredge barges moored on fishing grounds and increased boat traffic making trawling impractical in some areas.

"Also, trawl nets have been coming up with lumps of dredge spoil that have fallen off the barges on their way to the offshore spoil dumping site.

"Fishermen could not set their nets anywhere near the spoil dumping ground as their nets got clogged with black greasy sludge.

"In any case, there was little in the way of healthy fish to catch because of the fish disease affecting multiple species.

"The EIS process required the LNG companies to accurately predict and assess the impacts of their developments and this was not done.

"The original EIS reports given to the Queensland Coordinator General at the beginning of this process were inadequate."

Mr Gardner described the process to develop a compensation package as a "disappointing failure."

"The outcome is a proposal that a small number of fishermen in a limited area should receive some money.

"However, it completely fails to properly take into account the broader, cumulative impacts of the Western Basin Development.

"As was predictable, impacts of this development have already taken a toll on fishermen and their families.

"Many have moved to other areas or simply have given up and have looked for other work.

"This package does not address the movement of these fishers into other areas along the coast, causing overcrowding and undue pressure on fish stocks in some of these areas."

For more Gladstone harbour stories click here.

Topics:  commercial fishers, compensation package, gladstone harbour, gladstone ports corporation, gpc, seafood industry



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