TIN Can Bay seafood industry representative Kev Reibel
TIN Can Bay seafood industry representative Kev Reibel

Fish industry's state-wide fear of 'death by regulation'

QUEENSLAND commercial fishing operators are fearful for the future, if they have one.

Their peak representative body, the Queensland Seafood Industry Association, held its annual general meeting at Tin Can Bay yesterday.

Delegates from all along the Queensland coast questioned state government plans to privatise the state's fish resource and to cut commercial access.

Some predicted the planned new laws would drive up to 20 per cent of fishing operators out of the business.

Inshore Tin Can Bay netter Joe McLeod said this would mean disaster for the town's economy, killing its fishing industry and possibly shutting down its world famous dolphin feeding institution, a mainstay of Cooloola Coast tourism.

"If there are only one or two netters, where are they going to get the locally caught biddies we have to use by law?" he said.

Others claimed their concerns had been ignored in what was called public consultation.

One delegate called for restrictions on coastal property development to protect the estuaries and mangrove areas where fish and crabs breed, instead of "blaming the fishermen."

Consumers also would suffer, the meeting was told.

Concerns about shortages of locally caught fish for consumers had been dismissed by one official, who said local product could easily be replaced by imports.

Re-elected board member, Tin Can Bay trawler operator Kev Reibel, said the re-organisation would affect both inshore and offshore fishing businesses.

Delegates were also angry about vessel monitoring systems which would give an exact location, with fines of up to $133,450 for even an accidental or minor breach of a protected area boundary.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner has responded that the changes were needed to protect the future of everyone involved in the commercial seafood and recreational angling and crabbing industries.

He said "extensive" investigation and consultation processes on the proposed new fish management rules, had convinced him that "doing nothing is not an option."

"We are delivering much needed fisheries reforms to ensure we leave a sustainable fishery for out children and grandchildren," he said.

New and re-elected QSIA board members include Mr Reibel, David Swindells of Rockhampton, Tony Resienweber of Moreton Bay, Nathan Rynn of Townsville, Shane Snow from the Gulf, Allan Bobberman of Far North Queensland and David Caracciolo of Mackay, as well as continuing president Keith Harris, of Yeppoon, who is half way through a two-year term.