CHANGES WELCOME: Urangan Rod Hire owner Colin Mathieson on Urangan Pier.
CHANGES WELCOME: Urangan Rod Hire owner Colin Mathieson on Urangan Pier. Alistair Brightman

REFORMS: Mixed feelings as fish regulations debate rages on

WHILE commercial anglers brace for the impact of proposed changes to fisheries regulations, other Fraser Coast fishers would welcome the amendments.

Colin Mathieson, owner of Urangan Rod Hire, said he hadn't seen the State Government's proposed legislation, but believed reduced fishing quotas and more limitations on net fishing would help the recreational industry recover.

He said he had noticed fewer fish in the region over the past three to five years.

"The more limitations, the better for recreational fishermen," he said.

"Less netting would help recreational fishing in general."

Mr Mathieson said boosting the recreational fishing industry would benefit the Fraser Coast economy by millions of dollars.

Not everyone agrees with Mr Mathieson.

Yesterday Fraser Coast restaurant owners expressed their concerns about what the quotas would mean for the supply and price of locally-sourced, fresh seafood.

Mick Mielczarek, catering manager for the Hervey Bay RSL, the Clubhouse and the Bayswater Hotel, said he had already had to take scallops off his menu because of price rises.

He said it was hard enough to source local seafood already without the addition of tougher legislation on the industry.

"The legislation is going to make it harder than it already is," he said.

"Seafood is already getting more and more expensive."

Dean Major, owner of Cafe Balaena, said his business sourced local seafood from Urangan Fisheries.

He said he hoped the business would still be able to purchase the quantities of seafood needed at a reasonable price as supporting the local industry was important to him.

The region's commercial fishers, backed by Gympie MP Tony Perrett and Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen, have made clear their concerns for the future of their industry if the legislation was to be introduced by the State Government.

Earlier this month Burrum Heads commercial fisherman Tony Simpson, who has fished in Fraser Coast waters for more than 42 years, said the reforms, which propose changes to crab, trawl and inshore fishing quotas, would likely leave him without a job.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the proposed changes were the result of a comprehensive consultation process over the past two years as part of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy.

"The changes focus on long-term sustainability and profitability, urgent actions to support key species, standardising fishing rules, supporting compliance and reducing red-tape," he said.