Sea cucumber firm takes Fraser Coast Council to court
A SEAFOOD company hopes the scales of justice will tip in its favour after a long-running dispute with local authorities.
Bluefin Seafoods has been involved in ponderous disputes with Fraser Coast Regional Council for years.
The council said in 2010 it could not sell a property to Bluefin that the company had already built on, Bluefin director Theresa Rimmer told Brisbane Supreme Court.
"The company had no choice but to get investors to save the company," she said on Tuesday.
Bluefin filed a claim for damages last June.
The firm needed more time and had not got enough legal advice, Ms Rimmer told Justice Glenn Martin.
A Sea Cucumber Consultancy publication earlier described Bluefin as having "Australia's first commercial sea cucumber culture hatchery".
In 2010, Ms Rimmer's partner Ross Meaclem got preliminary approval for a new shed to grow soft shell crabs and sea cucumbers.
At that time, he told the Fraser Coast Chronicle he had been stymied.
Bluefin was not the only company fighting authorities - Hervey Bay had by then already lost at least one hatchery and one fish farm after owners quit amid fights with the council.
Meaclem had been hoping to farm 600,000 sea cucumbers a year, the Chronicle reported.
"It's been a bit of a battle to get through all the regulations so I haven't been able to do as much as I would have liked," he said.
Barrister Keith Wilson, acting for the council, said his solicitors pointed out "deficiencies" in the claim last August.
An amended statement of claim was filed later that month but the case was still dragging on.
The case had fishtailed since, with various documents filed and a review was held in April.
"The plaintiffs have had more than adequate opportunity to put a compliant statement of claim to the court," Mr Wilson said.
In relation to the latest statement of claim, "there is no doubt that it should be struck out," he added.
A claim filed on June 12 was struck out but Bluefin was given till September 11 to file an amended claim.
The judge adjourned the matter for Justice Peter Applegarth to look at.
Outside court, Ms Rimmer said she would not be commenting on the case for the time being.
Sea cucumbers are related to starfish and sea urchins. There are more than 1000 known species and humans eat some of them, especially in Asia.
This popularity means some species are endangered.