FEDERAL Environment Minister Peter Garrett wants to hear a lot more from the Gympie Region’s fishing and tourism industries before he makes any decisions on possible fishing restrictions off the Cooloola coastline.
Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne emerged optimistic from a 35-minute meeting with Mr Garrett in Canberra yesterday, where he relayed the concerns of the region’s marine, fishing, accommodation and retail sectors.
A large area going from Double Island Point to three-quarters of the way up Fraser Island and hundreds of nautical miles out to sea has been marked as an “Area for Further Assessment” under plans which Mr Garrett said will result in “some closures.”
However, Mr Garrett has insisted that public consultation on future uses of the area has only just begun, with the prospect of some closed areas, some for commercial and recreational fishing and some mixed-use zones.
But fishing and related business interests, particularly at Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach, remain concerned.
Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce President Peter Todd, Bay fisher Kevin Riebel, Gympie marine retailer and boat builder Frank Watson and Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association President Scott Elms met in Gympie this week to organise a major public forum on the Garrett review, which they say could threaten the entire Coast economy and have significant effects throughout the Gympie Region.
“We have three Senators, including Ron Boswell indicating they will attend and (federal Opposition leader) Tony Abbott says he will be there if his election campaign schedule allows it,” Mr Todd said.
The Marine Queensland forum will be held at Gympie’s showgrounds pavilion on Saturday, July 10, from 6.30pm.
Mr Watson said speakers would also include North Queensland business people who had already experienced financial chaos after closures announced off their coastline.
Speaking from Canberra yesterday, Cr Dyne said Mr Garrett appeared “quite positive that there is a lot more discussion to be done.
“It seemed like a genuine attitude and he seemed to be going out of his way to be as inclusive as possible,” Cr Dyne said.
“I gave him the submissions from Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Marine Industries Federation.”