Australian Seafood Industry supporters rise to challenge Government

Aug 22, 2023

A massive crowd of supporters have rallied together at Brisbane’s Parliament House to pledge their support for Queensland’s at-risk Seafood Industry.

The rally, organised and promoted by Townsville local fisherman and retailer Lucas Dansie, was prompted off the back of the Federal and Queensland Governments’ impulsive announcement in June that all gillnet fishing would be phased out along the east-coast by mid-2027.

The decision was made in response to international concerns raised by UNESCO about the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its World Heritage status. A Department spokesperson claimed there was ‘not time or the ability to undertake [industry] consultation’, prior to making the announcement resulting in a shockwave effect being sent through the commercial fishing industry.

There will be buy-outs and removals of all N2 and N4 licences by 31 December 2023. N1 licences will also be bought out, removed with a limited number to remain conditionally until being completely phased out by 30 June 2027.

The decision will completely destroy the gillnet fishing industry and for many commercial fishers who solely operate as net fishers, it will be the end of their entire business and livelihood.

The State Government established a taskforce to determine how $160 million of joint government funds will be distributed to those in the industry who will suffer significant financial loss due to the decision and the closure of their trade. Fishers hold significant concerns about the integrity of the Taskforce and fear that they may never see fair and reasonable remuneration for their loss.

Rally organiser and owner of North Shore Seafood Co, Mr. Lucas Dansie, said that the rally was such an important event that was well attended by those who are fighting for their jobs and their industry.

“More importantly, this rally is about fighting for the food security of Queenslanders and trying to raise awareness about what the Government is doing to impact on that food security,” Mr Dansie said.

“The reason wild seafood is so special is because it is not modified or farmed, it simply a naturally grown resource harvested by locals.

“The fishing industry has gone through more than 30 years of hard reform and every year it is scrutinised and mandated to ensure safe and sustainable practices within the fishery.

“We use this resource responsibly and sustainably.

“UNESCO dictates to Australia what it should and shouldn’t do with its own resources, and that we should remove all gillnets form the water by 2027, it’s absolute garbage.

“We have never gillnetted the Great Barrier Reef. We are not even close to it. We net the inshore rivers and creeks for barramundi and mixed fish and in some cases, we are up to 80 kilometres from the reef.”

Burdekin commercial fisher, Sienna Green, said this decision had nothing to do with sustainability nor fish stocks.

“This is all about chasing cheap political votes in the metropolitan areas, particularly in Brisbane,” Ms Green said.

“The Government are hiding what they are doing to us and the impacts they are causing. They don’t want it in the media.”

Ms Green urged supporters to hop on board and contribute to the Go Fund Me page setup by the Queensland Seafood Industry Association to help fund the media campaign and help urge the Government to reconsider the decision. Here is the link to the Go Fund Me page:

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto, said that it was absolutely gutting to hear the State and Federal Governments’ announcement in June that they had decided to shut down the gillnet fishing industry along Queensland’s east-coast.

“The reality is, that UNESCO is pushing a message through our Governments to try and shut down our wild local caught seafood in the name of preserving the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Dametto said.

“They are also trying to do things when it comes to the agricultural industry, but I believe there is a larger agenda underway here.

“This rally isn’t just going to send a clear message to the State Labor Government who are trying to shut the industry down, it is also going to inform the consumers out there who are yet to realise the full impact of this Government’s decision.

“If these gillnet bans continue to be enforced, consumers won’t be able to purchase local, wild caught, sustainable Australian seafood in the future. All that would be on offer would be farmed or imported seafood from unknown locations, caught using unknown fishing practices.”

A parliamentary petition is currently running on the Queensland parliament website. Through the petition, industry is calling for the following – a) To allow a buyback of licenses for the people that want to leave the industry b) have a remaining net license for the people that want to continue to feed Australia and c) for  Government to sit down and do proper consultation going forward to have an agreed outcome not simply cancel the fishery altogether.

The link to the petition can be found here: