Net-free zone introduction 'not a matter of debate'

Questions on net-free zones : Gladstone fisherman asked minister about net-free zones benefit to recreational industry
Questions on net-free zones : Gladstone fisherman asked minister about net-free zones benefit to recreational industry

"HOW long is piece of string?"

That was Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne's response when asked how many new jobs the Queensland government expects will be created under its policy on net-free zones. 

Gladstone commercial fisherman Mark McMillan was outspoken this morning at the annual Infofish conference in Gladstone.

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"They keep saying this policy will create all these jobs. How about a number that they envisage (it will produce)?" Mr McMillan said.

The minister gave a short presentation on the zones, saying their introduction was "not a matter of debate or negotiation".

Three days before the state election the Labor Party announced its sustainable fishing policy, which includes three net-free zones along the Queensland coast.

QSIA on net-free zones: QSIA president Karen Collard at the annual InfoFish forum in Gladstone
QSIA on net-free zones: QSIA president Karen Collard at the annual InfoFish forum in Gladstone

The biggest net-free zone is 2000sq km, covering from the Great Keppel Bay to the northern tip of Curtis Island into the Narrows.

The area in Mackay covers just 150sq km.

Mr Byrne said the policy had been a long time in the making, and labelled claims there would be a limited supply of local seafood as "scaremongering".

The government also has plans to introduce a net-free zone in Moreton Bay.

Today the minister said even more net-frees were possible, with interest from other communities expressing their enthusiasm for the measure to be expanded.

Rec fisher wants net-free zones: Kim Martin talks about the benefits of net-free zones
Rec fisher wants net-free zones: Kim Martin talks about the benefits of net-free zones