Media Release: Net Cast over Fishers’ Future

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Net Cast over Fishers’ Future

Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson is calling on the Albanese Labor Government to press pause on its phase-out of gillnet fishing and begin community consultation.
On World Environment Day, the Federal Labor Minister for Environment and Water and State Labor Minister for Fisheries announced the phase-out of N2 and N4 licenses by December 31, 2023.
The decision would put an end to the use of set mesh netting in offshore waters, the technique used to catch fish like barramundi, king salmon, flake and grey mackerel.  
Mr Thompson said decision-making was rushed and could affect the availability of fresh seafood and cause businesses to collapse.
“Australian seafood is a world-renowned product that we take pride in sharing with the world, and the Albanese Labor Government is putting the future of this industry at risk,” Mr Thompson said.
“The Minister raced to spruik this announcement on World Environment Day, without first engaging in community consultation.
“Phasing out gillnet fishing means less fresh fish on the plates of locals, and a huge financial hit to fishers in Townsville and beyond.
“They’ve been left blindsided by this ill-informed decision which is cutting off the hand that provides so much to the food bowl of Australia.”
Mr Thompson has been meeting with local business that will be hardest hit, including Lounds Seafood Owner, Colin Lound.
Mr Lound said the decision would leave a gaping hole in his revenue.
“This decision will decrease my annual turnover by 30%,” he said.
“I’ve been doing this for forty years and 30% is a huge chunk of my livelihood. What am I supposed to do now?”
Mr Thompson said the decision would also have vast knock-on effects.
“It’s not just the fishers, but the boats and parts suppliers, and the entire tourism industry who will see the negative repercussions,” he said.
Both ministers have said they will implement a buy-back scheme and support group, which Mr Thompson said was cold comfort.
“To buy back part of a license is not fair compensation for what is an important part of an entire business model, not to mention the fact that equipment that is now obsolete,” Mr. Thompson said.
“Talking to the community after the fact is not how you support an industry that is going to be flipped on its head by this decision.
“I’ll continue to raise this in Parliament and beyond until the Albanese Labor Government presses pause and undertakes proper community consultation.”


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