A LABOR Party call to ban inshore net fishing throughout the Cooloola and Fraser Coast would destroy the Tin Can Bay dolphin feeding tradition, its most energetic defender Joe McLeod said yesterday.

Mr McLeod, an inshore fisherman who negotiated the legislated conditions for dolphin feeding at Norman Point, says Labor's Wide Bay federal election candidate, Lucy Stanton, is wrong to claim the dolphin attraction would still have access to ocean fish.

The estuarine dolphins involved do not like ocean fish, Mr McLeod says. They eat fish caught in the inlet.

"They eat the herrings and biddies which are by catch from inshore net fishing.

"I wish she had talked to us before making her announcement," he said.

Mr McLeod said the regulations governing continued dolphin feeding required that the dolphins be fed commercially caught fish, handled to the same health standards as human food.

Ms Stanton also copped a blast from the other side of the Cooloola Coast commercial fishing industry, the offshore trawling sector, represented by trawler operator Kev Reibel, who says the whole industry is constantly under attack, one sector at a time.

"I'm very concerned," he said.

"The Queensland industry has just been through a very unfair process of net free zones in North Queensland.

"It looks like the same thing is going to happen here.

"The industry has had enough."

Ms Stanton says her World Heritage plan will bring significant benefits to tourist operations such as the dolphin feeding at Barnacles restaurant at Norman Point.

But Mr McLeod and Mr Reibel both say commercial net fishing does not need to be banned for an area to qualify for listing.

"The Great Barrier Reef is World Heritage listed. I have a licence and I fish there," Mr Reibel said.

In an open letter from to Ms Stanton, QSIA senior vice president Keith Harris says there is verifiable scientific evidence that fishing in Queensland is already sustainably managed.

He says it is not good eco-tourism policy to attack the fishing industry to benefit tourism.

"The tourism sector relies on fresh local fish, mostly caught in nets, to feed locals, interstate tourists and international visitors," he said.

Mr Reibel says fishing seems to be under relentless attack, more than any other primary industry, despite its proven sustainability.

Gympie Times

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