Fisheries Green Paper Threatens Industry

by Ted Sorensen

–       Labor wants to slash commercial and recreational fishing harvests
–       No thought for impact on seafood industry beyond the wharf
–       Hundreds of jobs set to be lost in regional communities along the coast

The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s fisheries ‘green paper’ threatens Queensland’s 1700 commercial fishers and the thousands of associated  jobs in the state’s $500 million-plus seafood sector.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Dale Last said catch targets contained in the ‘green paper’ would mean cuts of between 40 and 50 per cent in commercial harvests.

He said it would result in the loss of hundreds of local jobs along the Queensland coast, with the biggest impact felt in Mooloolaba, Maryborough, Tin Can Bay, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Bowen and Innisfail.

“It’s a recipe for disaster for our commercial fishing sector and will lead to serious regional job losses and small business closures right along the coast,” Mr Last said.

“It would also lead to a surge in black-market fish and crab sales that would be virtually impossible to contain.”

Mr Last said the document was ‘dishonest’ because while it had been launched as discussion paper to progress management policy, it was clear many key decisions had been made.

“Minister Donaldson is at the bottom of the Cabinet pecking order and I doubt she’s had much input into the key issues, particularly the stated target change from having a sustainable catch that effectively leaves 30 – 40 per cent of fish stocks to a new target that leaves 60 per cent,” he said.

“I doubt the Minister has discussed this with the commercial fishing stakeholders and particularly commercial fishers and seafood businesses in her own electorate.

“The wording in the green paper clearly wants to downplay the true value of the wild caught fishery to the Queensland economy by only listing the landed value of the catch as $190m.*

“It widely recognised that its spinoff benefits to the broader community is more than $500 million annually.”

Mr Last said Queensland was recognised as having some of the best, sustainably-managed fisheries in the world.

He said it was of great concern for the thousands who worked in the seafood industry from the boats, cold-stores and wholesalers to fish & chip shops and seafood restaurants that the Minister had provided no scientific data to support the catch target.

“The community has the right to know and understand the impact this policy will have on them,” Mr Last said.

“Consumers also have the right to know whether they will be forced to eat more imported seafood as a result of this policy.

“There is not a word in the green paper on its likely impact on the industry beyond the wharf and what it would mean to supplies of fresh, local-caught seafood.”

*Green Paper P12 – Major areas for reform

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