Confirmation of death-knoll for remote gulf communities: Katter

Mar 5, 2024

The State Labor Government’s announcement to end gillnet fishing will only result in remote Gulf of Carpentaria communities becoming threatened species, Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said.

Allegedly, this announcement is to protect threatened fish species; instead, Gulf communities such as Karumba are the threatened species.

Despite repeated calls from the KAP and Gulf businesses, there remains no scientific evidence supporting the announced action.

“We know the real reason behind the announcement is pandering to UNESCO. With no genuine consultation, no scientific evidence, and a rushed announcement before the next election, the intention could not be clearer,” Mr Katter said.

“The irony that cannot be ignored here is that the Department’s only source of data on fish and endangered species is the very boats they are trying to take off the water.

“Additionally, the Department has failed to uphold their obligation to report on total catch data since 2022.  This is supposed to be reported ‘twice yearly’.

“When spontaneous decisions are made and not properly considered, it is inevitably communities will suffer.

“Commercial fishing is the life blood of remote communities such as Karumba. With boat crews, processing facilities, merchants, as well as sustaining services such as fuel depots, grocery stores and schools, the Government’s rushed announcement will certainly decimate the viability of the currently thriving town.

“The flow-on effect of this will also reach far beyond Gulf communities like Karumba and Normanton, this will have an impact in fish and chip shops throughout Queensland and indeed Australia, driving up the price of safe, home-grown Australian fish.

“We are experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, and here we see the State Government announcing the closure of a key part of North Queensland’s food supply chain – the logic beggars belief!

“If anyone still cares about our national food security – something that became acutely important only a few short years ago – then losing access to more than 1700 tonnes of safe, home-grown Australian seafood each year should be an outrage.

“If this Government were serious about their concerns for threatened species, they would have science backing their position, and included in their announcement mechanisms to give hard-working, successful businesspeople a dignified exit.

“Instead, the area permitted for the same number of fishers is proposed to be dramatically reduced.  This will certainly lead to perverse fish outcomes, and lead to businesses and essential services leaving town.”

“We reiterate our call to the Government to immediately scrap, or at the very least, postpone the gillnet ban by a minimum of 12 months.”