Net-free zones supported by 90%, govt says

NET-free zones to be introduced in three places along the Queensland Coast including from Yeppoon down to The Narrows have majority support, according to the government.

Today Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne announced 90% of 6300 respondents to an online survey on the zones supported the policy.

"….this is a policy that has resonated with the people of Queensland," Minister Byrne said.

It comes after heavy criticism from the commercial fishing industry over a lack of consultation.

Related:

>> New net-free zones stun commercial fishermen

>> Fishers unite to fight government on net zones

>> YOUR STORY: Support the net-free zone, import your seafood

>> Commercial fishers say they weren't consulted

Queensland Seafood Association President Karen Collard said despite multiple requests for meetings with Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne the commercial industry says it has been ignored.

Instead an online survey was launched two months ago to consult on the boundaries of the zones, rather than the introduction of the zones themselves.

Only 4% of the people who responded to the survey were commercial fishermen, 49% identified as recreational fishers, 33% as the general public, 13% as conservationist and 1% as indigenous fishers or charter fishing businesses.

The zones in Trinity Bay, Cairns, St Helen's Beach north of Mackay and the Yeppoon-Keppel Bay- Fitzroy River were originally announced three days before the state election.

Since then, commercial fishermen and the QSIA have called for more direct engagement with the commercial industry. The QSIA has labelled the way these net-free zones have been introduced as "bad policy" which has alienated the commercial industry.

"The Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) has consistently called for 'real' consultation and two way dialogue between government and commercial fishers. So far our requests for meetings before and during the submission process have been ignored by Minister Byrne" Karen Collard said.

However a letter addressed to Ms Collard, signed by Minister Bill Byrne indicates there was at least one occasion when the two met in Townsville in March.

"I refer to our meeting at the Townsville Community Cabinet of 29 March 2015, to talk about the proposed net free zoning within Queensland," it reads.

Ms Collard could not be contacted for further comment on the one off meeting. A final decision is yet to be made on the boundaries of the zones.

More than 5000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to block to the legislation which was tabled in parliament by LNP Burnett MP Stephen Bennett. 



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