Commercial fishers warn net-free zoning could kill industry
RECREATIONAL anglers want a net-free zone included in the Great Sandy Strait marine park, but Fraser Coast commercial fishers warn that would produce an "economic earthquake" that would kill their industry.
After three new net-free zones along the Queensland coast were announced by the State Government last Friday, the Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance has started pushing to have the Great Sandy Marine Park also declared a net-free zone.
FCFA chairman Scott Mitchell said net fishing in the marine park, stretching from Tin Can Bay to Moon Point, had held back the local economy and affected recreational fishing in the region.
"Many anglers that did come here to fish no longer come here," Mr Mitchell said.
"For example golden trevally, that is our iconic sports fish, their numbers have definitely declined on our sand flats."
Mr Mitchell said he believed the commercial fishers should be compensated if the zone was put in place, and said only a small number of commercial fishers would be affected.
"The commercial catch from those areas historically is less than 6% of the in-shore fish harvested in the state; a 6% reduction is not going to stop the supply of fresh local seafood," he said.
But Queensland Seafood Industry Association spokeswoman Elaine Lewthwaite warned the impact of a net-free zone would "shake this community to the core".
"Hervey Bay, Tin Can Bay, Maryborough would be at the epicentre of an economic earthquake not just impacting the suppliers of seafood," Ms Lewthwaite said.
"The fresh local fish sourced from the Great Sandy Marine Park currently provides over 1.2 million serves of Queensland seafood per annum to non-angling consumers."
Ms Lewthwaite said the economic impact of net-free zoning would not stop at the shore line.
"Jobs would be gone of generational fishing families, and service industry workers from across the Fraser Coast would lose income, businesses and jobs," Ms Lewthwaite said.
"Redundancy would occur immediately onshore in small businesses that currently enjoy a healthy trade with commercial fishing.
"Then the ripple would go right through the community to places such as the hairdresser where the fisherman's wife and daughter get their hair done every six weeks, or the orthodontist."
Ms Lewthwaite said taking away net-caught fish would deny the Queensland community its fresh fish and would perpetuate the myth that "every problem facing the marine park is caused by commercial fishing".