Momentum gathers for a net-free future
MOMENTUM is gathering for the Boyne River to become a net-free zone and it could happen sooner than expected.
The push is being driven by the Boyne Tannum HookUp committee, which has lodged an application with Fisheries Minister Mark Furner to end commercial netting in the river.
HookUp president Jennifer McGuire said discussions with Mr Furner were ongoing.
"Early indications from the minister's office are favourable so we are hoping by this year's HookUp event we'll have an announcement by the State Government that's moving in a positive direction," Ms McGuire said.
"It may not be the closure to the netting to begin with, it could just be a deferral of the netting period, which opens on May 1.
"It might be that the closure lasts for a little bit longer and we'll work together to make sure we end up with that family fishing river closed to netting permanently in the next couple of years."
Ms McGuire said a permanent closure would boost tourism and economic development.
The HookUp runs from May 3-5.
Ms McGuire also recognised the impact it would have on commercial fishers.
"Obviously there's professional fishermen out there that need to earn a living and they've been doing so decade upon decade," she said.
"My suggestion is professional fishermen don't come to a family fishing river like the Boyne River - go further afield."
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said he had met with Mr Furner on several occasions to discuss the issue.
"Originally the plan was for the whole of the Gladstone Region to become a net-free zone like Rockhampton... but if we can try to concentrate on just getting one system in the region first that would be the perfect opportunity," Mr Butcher said.
"That certainly makes it more achievable if we try to advocate to get that system as a net-free zone.
"Obviously if we are making net-free zones if affects professional fishermen who rely on that system for their livelihoods so there's compensation payouts you have to look at.
"We're seeing if we can shift that period to after the HookUp because we want people coming up here to try and catch a barra and then stay afterwards.
"There's a two-year time lapse... They need two years to tell the fishos that the dates have changed so they have a forward plan."
Mr Furner said the Queensland Government was considering its options.
"Glenn Butcher has been a strong advocate for recreational fishing and the Boyne Tannum HookUp," Mr Furner said.
"The government is currently considering options to support recreational fishing and tourism development in Gladstone, including the HookUp."
Ship and Sail general manager and recent by-election candidate Pat Laws said the decision to ban commercial fishing in the Boyne was a "no brainer".
"I think it should be totally banned in the Boyne, not just around HookUp," Mr Laws said.
"It's more of an issue than just a recreational event - it's an impact on our environment.
"It's a great area for recreational anglers but I think the significance of it is that these fish actually get a chance to recover from when the dam goes over instead of running a ring around and within two days these fish have disappeared to commercial netting.
"Here we are trying to find different ways of encouraging people to come to the area but on the other hand we're allowing that to be destroyed for no financial gain for our region.
"If a commercial fisher relies solely on the Boyne River to making a living then they're putting all their eggs in one basket."
The Observer made attempts to contact a commercial operator but was unsuccessful.