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Fishers put forward ideas for industry reforms

CASTING WIDE: North Coast fishers spokesman Phil Hilliard said a new peak body to represent commercial fishers would give the industry a unified voice.
CASTING WIDE: North Coast fishers spokesman Phil Hilliard said a new peak body to represent commercial fishers would give the industry a unified voice.

MORE than 700 professional fishers have made submissions to the State Government putting forward their ideas on reforms to the industry.

Last month fishers along the coast totally rejected the NSW Department of Primary Industry's proposed reforms at a series of consultation meetings along the coast.

In response the DPI allowed fishers until May 30 to make submissions outlining what they thought needed reforming in the industry.

A spokesman for North Coast fishers, Phil Hilliard, said a new peak body representing commercial fishers, the Coalition of Fishing Association and Co-ops, would give the industry a unified voice when dealing with the department and its Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson.

"They've got to go through all those submissions now," Mr Hilliard said. "How much credence the department and the minister give them, well that's to be seen."

Mr Hilliard said it would be disappointing if the minister ignored what fishermen had to say about running their industry.

He said a refusal to properly consult with the industry about the reforms it proposed last month had been behind their failure.

"They don't need to go in so heavy," he said. "It's not big changes we want, it's smaller changes."

He said local Members Chris Gulaptis, from Clarence and Don Page, from Ballina, had been working effectively with fishers.

"They've listened to what fishers have said and understand the fears fishers have for the industry," Mr Hilliard said. Mr Hilliard said the Coalition of Fishing Associations, which formed in Sydney last month, will meet in the last week in June for a second time.

"Getting these reforms right is vital for the future of the industry," he said.

Topics:  fishing, government, nsw, primary industries, reforms

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