Net-free zones will cause job losses, says fisheries

THE seafood industry is predicting job losses and an increase in the price of Queensland seafood after the State Government announced three new net-free fishing zones off the coast.

Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne made the move official yesterday and said the new zones would be in place by the end of the year.

Grunske's by the River owner Paul Grunske said he felt "absolutely gutted" by the announcement.

Mr Grunske said a petition against the new zones was on track to have 10,000 signatures in Bundaberg alone.

"For them to say this is supported by the public is political spin," he said.

Mr Grunske said the minister claimed in the announcement the decision was the best thing for the Great Barrier Reef, but this was the first time he had mentioned it.

He said he fished in the zones that had been pinpointed as did six or seven others his business bought supplies from.

"There's about 35-40% of locally-sourced fish that comes from that area," he said.

"We'll be pushed towards imported fish; we won't have the option. There's going to be a massive hole in our supply chain."

Mr Grunske said while $10million had been set aside as compensation, including buying back licences from fishers who wanted to get out of the industry, it would not help his business.

"I've got 12 staff here who are going to be losing their jobs," Mr Grunske said.

"How are they going to be compensated?"

Mr Grunske said it was a poorly thought-out and executed policy.

"It's going to create more problems than it solves," he said.

"All we can do is apply pressure, although they're not responding to it."

Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) net committee chairwoman Margaret Stevenson said one of the issues was recreational fishers already had plenty of areas that were net-free.

"They have much more area than the commercial fishers," she said.

Mrs Stevenson said the commercial sector was still supposed to supply seafood for four million seafood consumers in Queensland.

"Access to Queensland seafood will become more and more elitist," she said.

Mrs Stevenson said the QSIA knew there were other net-free zones on the agenda.

"I've heard there's an application gone in for Hervey Bay," she said.

"The government is already committed to one at Moreton Bay."

Mrs Stevenson said Queensland consumers were going to lose access to Queensland seafood.