Commercial fishermen have hit back at allegations made by Labor candidate for Wide Bay Lucy Stanton.
Commercial fishermen have hit back at allegations made by Labor candidate for Wide Bay Lucy Stanton. Chris McCormack/cm159701

Letters: Commercial fishermen hit back at machine gun claims

RESPONSE from the Queensland Seafood Industry Association to comments and allegations from Labor candidate for Wide Bay Lucy Stanton:

It probably comes as no surprise to most that you are pinpointing your focus on net fishing operations in the federal electorate of Wide Bay that you are running for in Saturday's election.

It would seem that you are trying to appeal to voters on the back of the "net free zones" brought in by the Queensland State Labor Government last year. Like the State Labor policy, there is no scientific basis for any of your claims that ocean beach netters cause any harm to the environment.

You may be interested in knowing that there are strict regulations set in place for ocean beach netters to legally and sustainably net fish on the North Shore beaches. Their main target over the winter months is mullet, which recreational fishers do not typically catch. It is a specifically targeted fish with limited bi-catch and proven to be sustainable.

Your claims in the article are disappointing to say the least. It appears clear that you are trying to create hysteria in the hope of getting "airplay" for your own benefit in your election campaign.

If you have actual evidence to back your claims, then of course you are welcome to put that evidence forward. It appears however that all you have is hearsay assertions that you use to tarnish the reputation of these hard working Queenslanders who are solid contributors to the local economy.

Isn't that what Labor stands for - sticking up for the workers?

As an ALP candidate, you do not appear to have that philosophy and rather prefer to incite harassment and bullying with your claims.

Commercial fishers are "seafood producers" and employ many local people either within their business directly or as jobs for locals in the onshore businesses reliant on the product sourced.

You should be supporting an important industry to the economy rather than publicly ridiculing it.

If any ocean beach netter is doing the wrong thing, then the Department of Fisheries or the Police can sort that out. One expects that if any of the claims are remotely true, it will be pretty straightforward for the regulators to intervene. It is not helpful however that you continue to attack the reputation of the entire fishing industry with your unsupported and defamatory claims.

We understand that the hysteria you are trying to create has even resulted in members of the public approaching ocean beach netters whilst the netters are going about their business.

There are of course occasions where an ocean beach netter may be required to ask a member of the public to move out of their way.

One reason is for insurance purposes, if an accident were to happen for example. The second is that it is an offence under the Fisheries Regulation 2008 (section 241) to obstruct a commercial fisher, which has a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units, which as at 1 July 2016 will equate to $2438.40.

All the ocean beach netters want is to be able to catch fish as they have done sustainably for generations.

Commercial fishers on the whole use nets to catch fish for locals who don't have the money to buy a boat or are physically able and go out and catch their own fish. Locals deserve access to local seafood. 

By all means make comment, but having no science or evidence to substantiate your comments is not fair play.

Chris Thompson,

for the Queensland Seafood Industry Association

Gympie Times


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