KAP calls on Minister to scrap gillnet fishing bans
The Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) is calling on the Fisheries Minister, Mark Furner MP to immediately withdraw the decision to ban gillnets in areas of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from 31 December 2023.
The calls come amidst rising industry tension leading into the end of the year with all impacted fishers still clueless about what the future holds for them in 2024.
Both Governments promised a $160 million ‘financial compensation’ package for those impacted fishers and a Future Fisheries Taskforce was set up in July to examine how that package would be allocated.
Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader Nick Dametto said that the State and Federal Governments announced the snap decision to ban gillnets back in May this year and yet six months down the track fishers are still no closer to knowing what reimbursement they are possibly eligible for.
“This entire issue has been mishandled from the beginning and is one of the most immoral and unethical decisions I have seen from a Government,” he said.
“This decision was made with zero consultation and with absolutely no ballpark figure of how much it would cost to equitably reimburse the industry for their closure. Where did the figure of $160 million come from, nobody knows.
“At this point in time, if I was heading up the industry I would be employing a regional economist to actually evaluate the total loss the east-coast comm fishing sector is set to lose with these gillnet fishing bans.
“We need to ensure the industry is getting the package it deserves not what crumbs Government is willing to share.
“Now we’re in a situation where the bans are practically already in effect as the barramundi season closed on the first of November meaning the nets are already out of the water. The whole industry is heading into Christmas with absolutely no idea what 2024 holds for them.
“Imagine being a business owner and not knowing what assets you can retain and what business activities you can conduct. There was also discussion from the Taskforce around a new NX symbol but since September it hasn’t been mentioned again since so fishers are in the dark about whether that is an option for them.
“Until this Government can inform industry stakeholders what the outcomes of the Taskforce deliberations were, they should immediately scrap, or at the very least, postpone the gillnet bans in the GBR by a minimum of 12 months.
“The decision was made in a split second, and it can be changed just as fast if the Government really wanted to.
“I would have thought heading into 2024 state election, both Labor and Liberal would have been eager to show Queenslanders that they care about Queensland’s primary industries.
“Unfortunately, we already know the Labor Government has sided with the greenies but someone needs to hurry up and find the mute button that seems to be stuck on all members of the State LNP.”
Bec and Dom Zaghini owners of seafood café, Wild Local, in Ingham said that the industry was on their knees.
“We have people who have no income now, they have no way of making their mortgage, buying groceries. There is no emergency funding for those people,” they said.
“People spent hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in their businesses just before this was announced, including us who built this amazing new building, and now we’re wondering what the hell is going on.
“We lost cash flow firstly from the Spanish mackerel quota cuts, that was the first hit, and now the gillnet bans are hitting our cash flow again. The bills don’t stop coming in.
“We understand decisions get made but they really need to get their ducks in a row. Just let us know one way or the other. It’s all about silent tactics.”
The bans will see buy-outs and removals of all N2 and N4 licences by 31 December 2023. N1 licences will also be bought out and removed with a limited number to remain conditionally until being completely phased out by 30 June 2027.
The Future Fisheries Taskforce concluded their deliberations more than six weeks ago with no updates provided from the Minister, the Department or the Taskforce.
Mr Dametto has a meeting with Minister Furner next week during Parliament where he will be pressuring the Minister to immediately announce a postponement of the bans.
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