Thursday, 19 September 2019

QUEENSLAND commercial fishers have followed the lead of cane farmers and sought help from federal LNP Senators Susan McDonald, Amanda Stoker and Paul Scarr as the industry fights for survival amid growing regulation by the Labor State Government.

The Senators met with angry fishermen in Mackay today (30/09/19) and heard their complaints are echoed by their peers throughout Queensland and Australia.

The Queensland Seafood Industry Association has criticised new quota and zone rules being implemented by Annastacia Palaszczuk, saying an estimated 15-30% of the state’s commercial fishing fleet will be rendered unviable.

The peak body added that the new rules were coming despite the State Government’s own review of fish stocks finding just three commercial species (scallops, snapper and pearl perch) were being overfished.

The QSIA states that in 2016/17, wild harvest of Queensland seafood was worth about $192.9 million, while commercial fishing in Queensland supports an estimated 2000 direct and indirect jobs.

It also cites a study showing Australia has one of the world’s largest fishable zones, but one of the lowest takes of wild seafood.

Meanwhile, Australia imports 70% of seafood, often from fisheries overseas that are poorly managed and overexploited.

North Queensland-based Senator Susan McDonald recently helped set up a Senate Inquiry into the State Labor Government’s regulation of cane and cattle farming practices, and she has similar concerns with fisheries management.

“ This Labor Government attacks primary industries without a solid evidence base and with no regard for consultation and feedback from industry,” she said.

“ They do what sounds good rather than what works, even to the point of ignoring their own reports.

“ The fishing industry has been pleading for the Labor State Government to fund detailed data and evidence collection on commercial fishing’s impact on fish stocks, but the state has cried poor.

“ When Annastacia Palaszczuk announced $250 million in government staff bonuses last week, the fishing industry’s representative on the government’s East Coast Inshore Fishery Working Group quit the role in disgust –  the second one to do so.”

Among the more frustrating regulations cited by fishermen is a requirement that when the black jewfish quota is reached, the fish cannot be targeted and must be thrown back if they are incidentally caught in nets.

“ There would be tonnes of these prime table fish being thrown away only to be eaten by sharks,” said Senator McDonald.

“ This, like Labor’s whole approach to farming, fishing and forestry, makes absolutely no sense.

“ I’m deeply concerned that this Labor State Government is ashamed of these important industries and treats them with a sort of cultural cringe. It would rather we imported food than grow it or catch it.”

Senator McDonald said she would now investigate ways of including Queensland fishing laws in the Senate Inquiry into farming regulations, due to report in October 2020.

“ The State Government should be spending money on supporting and encouraging best practice in fishing, farming and forestry rather than imposing ‘big stick’ legislation that largely affects regional communities,” she said.

“ This inquiry will examine what evidence, if any, was used to support cracking down on farming  –  and potentially fishing  –  by this Labor Government whose priorities are all wrong.”


Julian Tomlinson, media adviser: 0421 059 187