Bugga all fish but I snapped this one of Deon Atkins' boat on Saturday.
Bugga all fish but I snapped this one of Deon Atkins' boat on Saturday. Carl Perry

Cooloola Coast fishing industry in fight for survival

COOLOOLA Coast fishing experts want the State Government to throw their proposed new laws overboard amid fears they will harm the tourist towns' economies.

In submissions to the State Government over the proposed changes to snapper and pearl perch fishing, Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association secretary Tony Stewart said the plan to turn July into a "no take" season for the fish will have a "substantial impact" on tourism and business.

The State is proposing the seasonal closure to help "depleted" fish stocks recover.

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An increase in the minimum size for pearl perch (from 35cm to 38cm) and a drop in the limit (from five to four) are also proposed, as is a ban on using nets to catch snapper.

Mr Stewart, who has worked in the fishing industry for more than two decades, said these laws would be detrimental.

 

Tony Stewart.
Tony Stewart. Renee Albrecht

"The decision on a no take of snapper in July next year will have a huge monetary effect on charter fishers, many of whom are our members," he said. "How many tourists and fishers will visit here in July next year?"

He also questioned how the proposals had been reached "without consultation with those that work full-time in the industry".

"Please consider the economic impact a July closure will have on our town businesses.

 

Fresh Snapper on ice.
Fresh Snapper on ice. Trevor Veale/ The

"I believe our charter fishers who bring a lot of tourism to our area have enough regulations now as well as battling the elements of weather, currents and fish shut downs in this economic climate."

He is supported by ex-charter fisherman and Marine Qld member Keith Hall, whose submission called the proposed changes "draconian".

The State Government's discussion paper on the changes said snapper stock assessment "estimated spawning biomass as 10-45 per cent of unfished levels... suggesting there had been no rebuilding of snapper stocks in Queensland, despite management changes put in place in 2011.

It was a similar story for pearl perch.

Gympie Times


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