Bay's commercial fishermen fear changes could gut industry
FOR commercial fishermen like Urangan's Ethan Hughes, proposed changes to crab, trawl and inshore fishing quotas are cause for grave concern.
Mr Hughes says the reforms are aimed at promoting sustainability but fears they will destroy his business.
He was among a chorus of voices yesterday expressing concern about the proposed change, which would slash crab, trawl and inshore fishing quotas.
Labor's changes, still in draft form, have Mr Hughes fearing he could lose his livelihood.
Having just invested $92,000 in a licence to catch barramundi, Mr Hughes now feared it would be useless under the new legislation.
He said concerns about sustainability weren't reflected by the industry.
"If there was a sustainability problem we wouldn't be here, we wouldn't be able to make a living," he said.
As well as providing for his family, Mr Hughes said his job made it possible to be flexible when it came to making a living, which was vital for his family as his daughter had a disability.
With less than two weeks for submissions to be made regarding the draft quota changes, commercial fishermen were concerned that their voices were not being heard by the government.
LNP spokesman for fisheries, Tony Perrett and Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen met with members of Hervey Bay's commercial fishing industry yesterday to hear their concerns.
Mr Perrett said the changes would cost the industry tens of millions of dollars if they went ahead in their current form.
"Under the proposed changes, crab fishery allocations will receive between 40 to 68 per cent of their average catch resulting in an average of 30 to 60 per cent loss of income," he said.
"We have heard testimonies from commercial fishers with decades of experience saying these changes will be the end of them.
"Many commercial fishers will be forced to leave the industry and lose their livelihoods."
But Acting Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Anthony Lynham said Mr Perrett refused briefings from the experts on the issue.
He said there had been consultation and feedback with fishers on the proposed quota rules.
"Our reforms to managing fisheries reflect international best practise and widespread and ongoing consultation," he said.
"It is endorsed by working groups with industry members, as well as an independent expert panel.
"We are building a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren.
"What we haven't heard is what the LNP would do. Last time in government they slashed fisheries staff by 28 per cent."
Tony Simpson, a fourth generation Fraser Coast fisherman who has been catching fish for 42 years, fears this year will be his last if the proposed reform became a reality.
"This will be the last straw for us," he said.
Mr Sorensen said there was no rationale or data behind the quota changes.
"Queensland's fisheries stocks are in great shape according to the 2018 Australian Fish Stocks Reports," he said.
"It's time to put science and transparency into fisheries - Labor need to go back to the drawing board with these unfair quota allocations.
"Labor have an anti-fishing agenda and want to destroy Hervey Bay's commercial fishing industry."