Fisherman Trevor Falzon.
Fisherman Trevor Falzon. Christopher Chan

Fishers fearing for their futures

THE results of a State Government review into Queensland's fishing industry are yet to be released, despite Labor announcing it will move forward with its new zoning policy.

This week the State Government announced the area north of Gladstone, including Keppel Bay and the Fitzroy River, would be the first of three areas closed to commercial fishing.

But the industry's peak body Queensland Seafood Industry Association wants the Fisheries Management Review, conducted under the previous government, released to the public first.

QSIA deputy chair Kevin Reibel said he couldn't understand why the government won't release the report.

"Surely the information that came out of it can only be helpful to us as an industry and that's why we are asking for it to be released as soon as possible."

Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne confirmed this week his office did intend to make public the findings, but did not say when.

He said he was "considering the report's recommendations" and would release the document "in due course".

"We will be implementing these zones only after detailed and meaningful consultation with the commercial fishers," Mr Byrne said.

The government is determined to deliver on its election commitment to introduce the three net-free zones with the two others off the coast of Mackay and Cairns.

Minister Byrne said the policy was designed to remove commercial gill, set mesh and bait nets from the zones. The policy will not affect commercial trawl, line fishing or crabbing.

But second-generation Gladstone fisherman Trevor Falzon, also on the QSIA board, said it threatened to destroy the lives of more than 100 fishing families in the area who rely on the Keppel Bay and Fitzroy system.

He said fisherman in Gladstone had been through enough and this was the icing on the devastating cake.

"How much more can a person take?" Mr Falzon asked.

"The situation with fishing Gladstone nearly killed me and this feels like the final straw.

"A lot of these fisherman don't have an education. I only went to school until grade nine because I never wanted to do anything other than fish the same waters my dad did," he said.

"I can't imagine doing anything else, but I guess I would have to."

Mr Falzon fears his profession is being pushed out of the local economy.

The QSIA has previously criticised the government for their lack of consultation because the industry first heard about the policy three days out from the election.

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