Labor Government comes down on commercial fishing
IT DID not take long for the Annastacia Palaszczuk Government to implement its election promise of major new commercial fishing closures off the coast.
But a spokesman for Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne denied fishing industry claims he was acting in haste or without industry consultation.
The closure policy, announced three days before the January 31 election, involves three significant new net-free areas off Cairns, Mackay and the Yeppoon/Keppel Bay/Fitzroy River region of the Capricorn Coast.
Queensland Seafood Industry Association deputy chairman and Tin Can Bay-based trawler operator Kev Reibel said the Government had started work on implementing the promise "within less than a week after the election."
He said the policy had been developed without any real consultation with an industry which provided Australia with environmentally regulated wild-caught seafood.
"Australia already imports about 70% of its seafood," he said.
"The 30% from here is caught in sustainably managed fisheries.
"The closures will increase netting pressure in remaining areas and will increase environmental and food security pressures in the countries where our fish will come from now," he said.
Ms Palaszczuk said, pre-election, that the closures would increase the economic value of the fisheries "by recognising that the total value of fish caught by recreational fishing tourists includes spending on local tourism-related businesses, such as charter boats, caravan parks and bait and tackle suppliers."
She said the net-free zones would be accompanied by a charter fishing promotional program.
QSIA president Karen Collard said there were already 102 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Conservation Zones and more than 100 creeks and rivers had net fishing prohibitions.
"There is no scientific, social or economic reason for more zones," she said.