Seafood industry hands petition to Queensland Parliament with 20,162 signatures opposing new net-free zones
Click here to hear an interview with Lance Murray
Seafood industry hands petition to Queensland Parliament with 20,162 signatures opposing new net-free zones
A petition containing 20,162 signatures was tabled in Queensland's Parliament yesterday, objecting to a plan for three net-free fishing zones in the state.
It brings the total to 27,670 signatures, across five petitions, presented to the Parliament since July.
The commercial fishing industry says the signatures show public support for their campaign against the three zones, due to be established from November 1.
Mackay Reef Fish Suppliers owner, David Caracciolo, said there is still a chance the State Government will reverse its decision.
"What [the petition] tells me is that the people of Queensland really want to maintain their seafood supply," he said.
"They've had enough of closures and political decisions that regulate primary producers' lives.
"This is a political decision, it's not a resource driven decision."
The Labor party announced, during the state election campaign in January, it would introduce the three net-free fishing zones.
There are in the Cairns, Mackay/Whitsunday, and Rockhampton regions.
Recreational fishing groups have been pushing for the policy for years, saying it would boost stocks of large breeding fish and lay the platform for a new era of fishing-tourism.
Commercial fishing groups argue the zones are not necessary and will affect supplies of local seafood, as well as putting some fishers and related operators out of business.
Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance president, Lance Murray, said he did not question the accuracy of the 27, 670 signatures, but he did argue the petition needed to be viewed in context.
"From what we understand, we assume the bulk of these [signatures] were collected at the Hervey bay Seafood Festival, which is some 396 kilometres away from the nearest net-free zone," he said.
"We are not questioning the amount of support they have got, it's just what was the question that was asked, because there has been a varying debate on this.
"Locally, it is about the supply of locally caught fresh fish, but we understand that the festival in Hervey Bay was about seafood, and seafood incorporates prawns, crabs, etcetera, etcetera."
The petition was compiled by Queensland Seafood Industry Association, which rejected Mr Murray's criticism of the process and said the signatures were collected across the state.
Opposition spokesperson for fisheries, Deb Frecklington, tabled the petition and told Parliament the Government was "blatantly ignoring scientific advice from their own fisheries department" in moving ahead with the policy.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne has been adamant since the election that the three net-free zones would go ahead.
Mr Murray said Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance had been running a petition in support of the net-free zones and had collected 4550 signatures in the Mackay region in five and half weeks.
Findings from a recently completed survey of the availability of fresh fish through 44 different outlets across Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast have raised serious questions about claims that people across Queensland would lose access to fresh fish if proposed Net Free Areas went ahead. Nathan Johnston, a spokesperson for Nets Out Queensland Campaign said “We knew that the claims of fish disappearing from the shelf were dubious, but even we were a bit surprised at the results” “Of the 18 supermarkets, clubs, pubs and taverns surveyed, no fresh fish product was offered for sale that was identified as being sourced from the proposed new Net Free Area”. “Of the 14 fish and chip stores surveyed, there was only one instance of fish being for sale identified as being sourced from the proposed Net Free Area.” “Of the 10 restaurants surveyed, only 2 had fresh fish product offered for sale potentially being sourced from the proposed Net Free Area.” Mr Johnston said. “If a customer wanted to source fresh fish from the local areas it appears the retail specialist seafood outlets are the place to go, with the two establishments surveyed both offering fish sourced from the proposed Net Free Area at the time of survey, but they also offered a range of fish species for sale sourced from areas outside the proposed new Net Free Areas.” Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast are directly adjacent to the largest of the 3 proposed Net Free Areas. It is also the area that produces 250 of 319 tonne of the fish netted from the three areas combined. “With Rockhampton and Capricorn coast being directly adjacent to the most productive of the three net free areas, we were expecting to see a lot more local product being offered for sale than was actually the case”. “The reality was that only one in nine instances of fish being offered for sale potentially came from the proposed net free area” “One can expect that this low prevalence of fresh local fish would slip back even further as you move away from adjacent areas.’ Mr Johnston said. Only 319 of over 10,500 tonne of Queensland’s total fish catch and production is currently sourced using gill nets in the three proposed net free areas. At the national level, these areas only account for 0.2% of Australia’s 163,811 tonnes total annual fish catch and production. The survey data also revealed that a significant segment of the market is seeking out high quality Australian farmed products like Atlantic salmon, which was available from 25% of all outlets surveyed. For the last decade Australians have been enjoying fresh farmed fish like barramundi and Atlantic salmon produced in aquaculture facilities across Australia. This has led to major and continuing expansion in the industry to help meet demand. “Our survey has found that closing three small sections to commercial netting will not result in the disappearance of fish from our shops. Queensland’s coastline extends almost 7,000 kilometres, most of which would remain open to commercial gill netting operations.” Mr Johnston said “We are deeply concerned about a recent disallowance motion tabled by LNP” “This motion aims to block regulations that would have led to the introduction of these net free areas” “A petition developed to bring about this disallowance motion was based on the availability of fresh fish and we are concerned the people of Queensland are forming their opinions on misleading information.” Nets Out Queensland campaign believe this may only be the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to recent claims and encourages members of the community, the media and politicians to carefully scrutinise the survey and other information on the matter and judge for themselves where the truth lies. The full report is available at www.netsoutqld.org ENDS Media Contact: Nathan Johnston Nets Out Queensland Campaign Spokesperson 0400221055
July 2015 Newsletter
Members and supporters, welcome to our July 2015 newsletter.
KIDS ONLY FISHING COMPETITION
Just a reminder that Tackle World Mackay and MRFA are conducting their annual KIDS ONLY fishing competition in the Pioneer River, Sunday the 16th of August.
$4000 worth of prizes are up for grabs, including some fantastic rod/reel combo’s, lures, terminal tackle, in fact each child who participates will win a prize, this is Neil and Helen Elworthy way of thanking Mackay for their support over the years.
Entry is free, BUT CONDITIONAL on prior registration at Tackle World, all entries must be signed by a parent/guardian, each child will be presented with a wrist band which must be worn and presented at the measure-in at the River Street boat ramp from between 3:00 to 3:30 pm on Sunday the 16th of August.
To ensure fairness and to give everyone a fair go, major winners will be selected on determined lengths as opposed to weight or numbers, only species caught in the Pioneer River are eligible to be entered (no mackerels – coral fin species).
NET- FREE ZONE DEVELOPMENTS
If all goes to schedule the implementation date will be the 1st of November 2015. The have your say results have been made public with 96% of respondents in favour if the NFZ with 4% against. Commercial fishers are waging a mighty battle (the truth being the first casualty). Commercial fishers have solicited the support of the LNP to oppose the NFZ regulation when tabled in parliament. This will be tabled as we understand mid-September.
MRFA would like to thank the Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan for his support with the St. Helens to Cape Hillsborough NFZ.
Following is a section of his letter to the MRAG (independent review into Queensland Fisheries Regulations) dated 30/10/2014.
Dear Sir / Madam
As the Government MP who represents Mackay and the Whitsundays, I would like to register my support for a net-free zone, as proposed by the Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance. So long as there is adequate compensation for impacted commercial fishers, I believe the concept has enormous merit and will result in growing our all-important tourism industry, which is critical given the current downturn in the resources sector in the Mackay-Whitsunday region.
I strongly commend the Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance on their proposal and as stated earlier, so long as the few remaining commercial operators who work in this area are given the opportunity to exit the industry with dignity, by way of appropriate compensation, then the net-free zone is something that should be embraced for the overall benefit of our region.
Furthermore, I believe there is strong, local community support for the net-free zone, and as a former resident of Seaforth, which is located along this stretch of coast, I know full well that residents, as well as tourists, are keen to see it approved by an LNP Government.
NET- FREE PETITION SEEKING YOUR SUPPORT
As a demonstration of community support four of our net – free committee members attended the June Seaforth markets and in only four hours obtained 729 petition signatures of support.
We have also obtained 1200 signatures of support while attending the Kuttabul Big Boar Competition.
Every single vote of support is worth its weight in gold. Please click on the following link and fill in the online petition. http://netsoutqld.org
INVITATION TO ASSIST IN COLLECTING BASE LINE DATA.
As part of the introduction of the NFZ, MRFA is conducting a fish data collection weekend on the 3rd and 4th of October. We are hoping that 100 anglers participate, there are no prizes, we are asking anglers to fish anywhere in the proposed NFZ and record their catch on documentation (supplied by us). Not catching any fish is just as important.
The data collected will be provided to Bill Sawynock from Info- Fish Services Rockhampton who is worldwide acknowledged in regards to fish data with over 30 years’ experience and 1.2 million fish in their data base.
We intend to conduct annual catch data collection to measure fish stock recruitment numbers.
If you can assist please contact Luke via email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you plan to camp over at the Seaforth camping grounds for the event we will pick up the tab, depending on numbers plans are well advanced for us to cater for dinner and breakfast at a moderate cost.
MRAG (independent review into Qld Fishers)
Our comprehensive response has been submitted in line with that as adopted by QRFN (Queensland Recreational Fishers network) copies are available on request.
SCHOOL FISH PROJECTS
Heads down, bums up, so far this year we are committed with the following school fish angler education programs; Mercy College, 160 children, ( full fishing day activities 3rd/4th of September), Holy Spirit, 21st August 25 children, Whitsunday Anglican ( date to be confirmed ) 50 –60 children. If you can lend a hand please contact please phone Michael Connelly on 49 548 961 or Glenn Fahy 49550665.
Will be emailed where possible otherwise posted, those who have joined in the past six months will not be receiving a renewal notice.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Our AGM will be held on Wednesday the 19th of August at the Mackay Conservation Groups admin building southern end of wood Street Mackay commencing at 7p.m. sharp, financial members and visitors most welcome.
JULY MEETING BRIEF
Website facelift; It was agreed that we need to update our website, this will be work in progress for the next two months as the NFZ is our priority.
Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as we are regularly updating the page.