Fishing industry to hold rally

THREE big hitters on the conservative side of federal politics have lent their support to a major public rally next month to protest against Federal Government threats to the Gympie Region economy, particularly the business economy of Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach.

The rally, now less than two weeks away, at the Gympie showgrounds Pavilion will feature speakers from the marine, fishing and fishing-tourism industries.

Fishing Party President Alex Winton and Cairns marine business operator Wayne Bayne will be among the speakers at the July 8 rally, with horror stories of economic impact from fishing closures off North Queensland.

While Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has said the process is still in its consultation phase, fishing interests say the areas under review were selected without any consultation.

On previous experience with State Government reviews, affected parties say they are expecting the worst.

The three Senators, Liberals Brett Mason and Ian Macdonald will be joined on the podium by Nationals leader in the Senate, Ron Boswell.

Both Senators Macdonald and Boswell took high profile roles in the campaign against the Traveston Crossing dam, particularly in organising and participating in the Senator Inquiry into the project.

Gympie marine retailer and boat builder Frank Watson said the traditional lifestyles of many ordinary Australians are under threat, with the future of one of the most significant recreational and commercial fisheries in Australia hanging in uncertainty.

That area, from Double Island Point to about three-quarters of the way up Fraser Island (and some hundreds of kilometres out to sea), is the prime grounds of almost all the prawn trawlers, scallopers and ocean fishing vessels operating out of Maroochydore, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, as well as Tin Can Bay.

It is also a highly favoured destination for the fishing charter industry, which attracts many thousands of people a year to Tin Can and Rainbow, where they support local businesses, including those supplying bait, tackle, accommodation and meals.

Mr Watson said North Queensland businesses had already felt the touch of financial chaos and many had already gone out of business as a result of changes in that region.

Their concerns are also backed by Tin Can Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association.

Mayor Ron Dyne took their concerns to Canberra this month, when he had a special meeting with Mr Garrett to discuss the current review of fishing rights off our coast.

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