Ports chief says 2011 harbour fishing ban was a mistake
THE chief executive of Gladstone Ports Corporation believes it was a mistake to ban fishing in Gladstone Harbour during a period in 2011.
A nationwide media frenzy began in September 2011, when a series of diseased fish caused the former Labor Government to close the harbour to fishing for three weeks.
There was speculation fish illness was transmitting to humans. That theory was later rejected by Queensland Health.
GPC chief executive Leo Zussino was asked on Thursday about community perceptions about the harbour.
"I think the mistake that was made and the turning point was when the State Government declared the closure of Gladstone Harbour because of perceived issues between diseased fish and humans," he said.
"I was horrified when that happened because I knew from that point onwards, the community had a right to believe that something terrible was happening."
Mr Zussino said from the moment the fishing ban was declared, a negative perception would be difficult to reverse.
Environmentalists and commercial fishermen believe the fish disease was caused by a major dredging project.
GPC and the State Government say the disease was caused by a spill of barramundi over Awoonga Dam in 2011.
Mr Zussino said the government should have sent a team of doctors to investigate.
"I think the State Government made a terrible mistake in the way that they handled that situation by closing the harbour," he said.
He was answering a question about negative perceptions in Brisbane and beyond about the health of Gladstone Harbour.
Mr Zussino has been told his contract will not be renewed when it ends in August, despite his open desire to continue.