Mackay Game Fishing Club member Craig Breadsell caught this Spanish mackerel off Mackay.
Mackay Game Fishing Club member Craig Breadsell caught this Spanish mackerel off Mackay. Contributed

Fishers sore over restricted zones

THE Federal Government’s proposed no-take fishing conservation zones in the Coral Sea and on the Fraser Coast have left Gladstone recreational and commercial fishers angry.

The Coral Sea Conservation Zone covers 972,000sq km of Australian waters and seabed east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The zone covers 2.4 million sq km from the Torres Strait to southern New South Wales, and as far east as Norfolk Island. The region encompasses the Coral Sea, but does not include the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

Mr Garrett is also assessing whether fishing should be banned to protect the marine environment between Double Island Point and Fraser Island.

Mr Garrett told the Observer in July that the establishment of the Conservation Zone would allow for detailed and extensive consultation with local communities and stakeholders before any permanent protection measures are proposed.

“Acknowledging the concerns of the affected stakeholders, the Conservation Zone will not impact on existing commercial, recreational or traditional Indigenous fishing, or cruise and merchant shipping in the area,” Mr Garrett had said.

However, Gladstone recreational and commercial fishers are finding that hard to believe with constant misinformation circulating where the issue has now become a political football match

Gladstone recreational angler Darryl Branthwaite said the federal government should leave it alone.

“I think the green zones they have at the moment are sustainable,” Mr Branthwaite said.

“If the Greens and Mr Garrett had their way we wouldn’t be fishing on the reef at all. The local fishing community is angry and there is a lot of resentment towards those that are pushing the issue as it affects many incomes in this area.

Simon Whittingham from the Gladstone Fish Market said the federal government is being aggressive and taking grounds that don’t need to taken.

“They offered restructuring and exit packages the last time they created green zones,” Mr Whittingham said.

“We opted to restructure and develop a plan around shifting to Harvey Bay to offset the impacts on the management plan. Now they’re proposing no-take fishing zones off Harvey Bay. I just don’t understand their reasoning.”

Mr Whittingham said many people in the industry are angry and for the first time the recreational and commercial fishing sectors actually agree.

“The big thing is that the federal government have to understand that it impacts industry as a whole and not just the catching sector,” he said.

“It is the post harbour sector and the marine mechanics, the boat builders, net makers, scallop peelers, charter boats and much more. Everybody is impacted.

“It will decide my vote.”



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