Local laments decline of fishing industry

By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THIRD generation fisherman Lance Hayward can feel the fishing industry crumbling under his feet and competition from cheap imports is only his latest worry.

Lance grew up on an island and has fished for as long as he can remember.

At 51 years old, it's all he knows but that is being eroded. Like all fishermen he has to deal with the implementation of green zones, quotas and rising fuel costs.

Lance had fished trout every year, bringing home 26 tonnes until a quota was introduced reducing it to nine tonnes.

In an effort to improve his now halved income, he bought a prawn trawler nine months ago and now faces competition from cheap 'It's just destroyed us,' Lance said.

Mr Hayward said it was only in the past 12 months that the competition became severe because retailers could buy cooked prawns for $3 kg.

'We just couldn't compete,'' Mr Hayward said.

'In the last year the downturn in realised dollars is down 30 to 35 per cent.'

Lance welcomed an inquiry into seafood labelling but said there were bigger problems.

'I think it'd be a great idea.

'I think most are complying but there's still some that are cheating the system,'' Mr Hayward said.

'That's not going to save it.

'That'll make it better... I think we can't have any restrictions or we won't be able to do work enough days to survive.

'The industry is crumbling.

'It's not from any one thing, it's all having its effect.

'This year is the hardest year I've ever had ? I'm on my knees.

'The industry the way it is, the value of boats and licences is dropping every day so we can't even sell up.'

Mr Hayward's ready to retire but he said he would have to continue fishing for another few years.

He has applied for compensation and hopes regulations will relax.

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