Warren Lynam

Not everyone hooked on net-free fishing zones

THE Queensland Government's plan to introduce net-free fishing zones hooked mostly support from those who spoke at a public briefing on the policy.

The majority of representatives from recreational and commercial fishing groups, councils and tourism bodies who attended the Agriculture and Environment Committee meeting on Monday backed the plan.

Outside the hearing, Sunfish Queensland executive officer Judy Lynne likened the State's 600,000 recreational fishers to mud crabs.

"They prefer to be left alone, but if you prod them they react," she said.

And when the executive officer from the recreational fishing body spoke to Queensland MPs about the plan for the zones off the Capricorn Coast and Mackay she did not hold back.

She and Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators executive officer Col McKenzie argued for the zones.

But Queensland Seafood Industry Association's David Swindells, who is a commercial fisherman in Rockhampton, said the State's consumers who could not fish would be the losers if the plan was implemented.

"Then we go down to the retailers, wholesalers and tourism: they are all going to lose their jobs," he said.

"Jobs in allied industries such as ice works, transport companies and net suppliers will lose jobs through the process.

"At a time when the economy is losing jobs, the government should be protecting businesses that employ people, particularly in rural and regional Queensland."

He dismissed the government's $10 million scheme, which includes a voluntary buy-back of commercial fishing licences in the zones.

"The government has not taken plant or equipment into consideration," Mr Swindells said.

"In my business I own boats, nets and other relevant equipment.

"My colleagues and I did a quick analysis the other day, and we quickly ran into $500,000 worth of equipment, and we are only small fry."

Parliament will likely discuss the plan in mid-October.

- APN NEWSDESK



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