Act now or risk losing it all, say Bay fishers
QUEENSLANDERS need to act now or risk losing their right to fish or even to eat local seafood, a group of independent Tin Can Bay fishermen claimed yesterday.
Radical plans to privatise Queensland's fishery resource are contained in a report, secret until recently, from multinational fishery consultant MRAG Asia Pacific.
The MRAG report was commissioned by the previous LNP Government and kept under wraps until released in State Parliament recently by new Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne.
Mr Byrne agreed the report recommended "significant long-term changes to the current fisheries management arrangements".
He said it dealt with "a resource owned, shared and used by of the people of Queensland".
And he said the report deserved "careful and open consideration".
But this is not what his department appears to have delivered, according to fishermen Malcolm Campbell, Joe McLeod and Mark Alexander.
People with concerns about the proposals have only a few weeks left to meet a June 30 submissions dead
line on the report, which is only available online.
This was not good enough, they said.
"Maybe Queensland needs another Fitzgerald Inquiry," Mr McLeod said.
He said Tony Fitzgerald's report on the management of Fraser Island had also dealt with complex technical issues but had managed to foster plain-English debate in the community, partly through the publication of clearly worded issues papers made available at government and council offices and to the media.
"Not all the older fishing folk have the internet," Mr Alexander said.
Speaking on behalf of the Great Sandy Region Seafood Supporters Group, they yesterday claimed the support of Independent Nicklin MP and parliamentary Speaker Peter Wellington who said it was "unfair to expect people to have a submission in before June 30".
He backed their call for an immediate halt to the decision-making process to allow people a realistic chance to read and understand the recommendations and their implications for all Queenslanders.
Mr Byrne has publicly encouraged submissions, but said the recommendations were not Government policy.