Net free zones protest at the community Cabinet held at the North Rockhampton High School on Sunday. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Net free zones protest at the community Cabinet held at the North Rockhampton High School on Sunday. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Central Queensland net-free fishing ban debate continues

THE Queensland Seafood Industry Association has responded to Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow's comments published in Monday's The Morning Bulletin about the State Government's proposed net-free fishing bans in the Fitzroy River.

A QSIA spokesperson said Queenslanders needed to be aware that whether it was a recreational fishing lobby group, the Mayor of Rockhampton or the State Government, our fisheries belonged to the public.

"To date Queenslanders have been offered no models but a lot of rhetoric about building tourism or increased recreational fishing and suddenly jobs will be magically created," the spokesperson said.

"Based on no evidence, the outcome for Queenslanders can be quantified - almost 104,500kg (based on 2013-14 catch figures) of barramundi will be lost to the Queensland seafood supply chain or approximately 417,000 serves of barramundi.

"Add to this 38 commercial fishing small, family-based businesses employing locals and spending money locally.

"Jobs are becoming harder to find in regional Queensland and removal of a viable seafood industry sector for the hope of jobs in others sectors is not only poor policy but bad news for access to fresh, local fish.

"The council should perhaps support their local seafood industry but this seems far from the case."

The QSIA spokesperson said there was no reason why barramundi tourism should not already be an existing business in the region.

"As the Mayor notes 'there are plenty of them'," the spokesperson said. "An increase in charter tourism activity could have financial impacts for charter fishers working Townsville; again the question of modelling and economic and social impacts are not assessed.

"The Mayor is quoted as saying 'every piece of research that's been done on tourism teaches us the value of new money into the region'. Is this the extent of the analysis?

"The sad truth is that the Mayor is hoping for change and a tourism lifeline for the region. Again, if tourism investment was viable it would have already taken place.

"There is no need to remove commercial fishers unless of course the argument is not really about regional job creation but something less obvious.

"The Mayor, like the State Government, provides the cover needed by recreational fishing zealots in the region. Their need to ensure that in their leisure time they can catch a few extra fish is their sole motivator."

The spokesperson urged Cr Strelow or any other local recreational fishing bodies to explain why the right to fish was more important than the community's right to expect its resource to be managed for all users.

Rockhampton Mayor @margaretstrelow takes a bite at the net-fishing ban debate http://ow.ly/Q6efe

Posted by The Morning Bulletin on Sunday, July 26, 2015


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