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  1. #1

    State backs down on fish limits

    Courier Mail News
    Steven Wardill 01may04
    PROFESSIONAL fishing operators may be let off the hook with a proposal to ease strict catch limits on those who have been in the industry the longest.

    Fisheries Minister Henry Palaszczuk will announce today that the Government has watered down the Coral Reef Fin Fishery Management Plan after pressure from coastal MPs.
    It follows fears that last year's decision to cut the total catch by a third would gut the industry.

    Today's proposal will allow long-term operators to still catch at least 80 per cent of their average catch between 1994 to 1996.

    Those who have entered the industry since 1997 will feel the most pain. A portion of their share of the total catch will go to the long-serving operators.

    Environmentalists fear the new proposal could lead to an increase in overall catch limits, as the Government faces pressure from the influential fish lobby.

    But Mr Palaszczuk said the new proposal would still ensure the protection of the Barrier Reef's delicate fish stocks.

    "The way the formula was, there were some operators who had done the right thing and the plan did not really take that into account. It will if these changes go through," he said The proposal was not to change the total catch limit but to protect long-term commercial fishing operators who had been in the industry before 1997.

    In 1997 the Government warned against investing in coral reef fishing because new restrictions on catches were planned.

    Mr Palaszczuk said the latest change was a recognition for established fishers who had heeded the investment warning.

    "The investment warning was shunned by many who saw and seized the opportunities with the live fish trade into South-East Asia," he said.

    Mr Palaszczuk conceded the change came after lobbying from Government MPs.

    It also follows the mobbing of Premier Peter Beattie during the election campaign by a small but vocal group of angry fishing operators in Bowen, north Queensland.

    Under the controversial Coral Reef Plan, introduced late last year, the Government had reduced the total commercial catch from 4800 tonnes to the 1996 levels of 3061 tonnes. It affected catches of coral trout, red throat emperor and other Reef fish species.

    Today's expected announcement has prompted World Wide Fund for Nature campaigner Imogen Zethoven to warn the State Government against allowing the total catch to increase.

    Ms Zethoven said there were still major questions about whether the 1996 catch rate could sustain fish numbers.

    "What they wanted to do was to choose a year as close to their investment warning to avoid compensation claims," she said.

    Ecofish executive officer Ryan Donnelly said the proposal was a mixed result.

    While it would help larger operators it was going to devastate those who recently bought into the industry. "In terms of the fishing industry, though, the number of fishers had to be rationalised at some point," he said.


  2. #2

    Re: State backs down on fish limits

    Funnily enough this is one of the most sensible decisions the govt has made.

    It actually gives leeway for the small operators to continue rather than the big Johnny come lately. Pitty they didn't follow the same path with something like spanner crabs.

    I guess if they continue to put up these management plans they'll have to get one right eventually.

    Maybe it will be Finfish

    Bugman

  3. #3

    Re: State backs down on fish limits

    The moral of the story is; if you want to have a win, mob the premier when he hits town.

    Fitzy..
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