'Going to lose out': Gladstone’s seafood supply at risk
A GLADSTONE commercial fisherman has warned the ultimate losers of new fishing quotas will be seafood consumers.
Mark McMillan, who catches in multiple fisheries including mud crab and barramundi, said he had been left in the dark by Queensland Fisheries for the past six months.
New quotas are being introduced for a range of fisheries as part of one of the biggest reforms to the industry.
Mr McMillan said he received an estimate for his new quota for mud crabs but that figure changed three times.
He was yet to receive his official quota and did not know when he would.
With the barramundi fishery closed, Mr McMillan has been targeting mud crabs but he's unsure what will happen when the quota is introduced.
"We'll have to reassess our business and we can't move forward until we have our quotas," Mr McMillan said.
He said his preliminary quota for mud crab was about half his annual average and about one-third for barramundi.
The Gladstone fisherman worries he and many others will have to increase their prices to stay viable.
"It may mean very little stays locally, it may mean having to send to southern markets to make up the shortfall," he said.
"The seafood-eating public is the one who's going to lose out. They have just as much right to this fish as recreational fishers, they just choose to source it from commercial fishers."
Gladstone Fish Market manager Megan Whittingham said the quotas had flow-on effects for their business.
"If the fishermen become unviable we become unviable," Mrs Whittingham said.
She said some people could be priced out of the seafood market.
"It will definitely impact the availability of super-fresh seafood in the area if the fishermen are looking at having to sell in the Brisbane market to achieve the dollars they want," she said.
A Queensland Fisheries spokesperson said the reform was expected to be finalised soon and that through catch limits and new regulations, it aimed to help "ensure fish for the future".
"Feedback is currently being sought on the harvest strategies for the reef line and spanner crab fisheries," the spokesperson said.
"Final allocation criteria will be released at the same time as the final regulatory changes and will take into account feedback from industry.
"Currently there is little certainty for commercial fishers to allow business planning, significant competition and conflict on the water."