Coalition offers fishers a ?hand up


THE NSW Coalition would spend $36 million buying commercial fishermen out of the industry if elected to government in 2007, Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell announced yesterday.

In revealing the NSW Opposition's buy out policy at the Clarence River Fishermen's Coop in Maclean, Mr Cansdell described the scheme as a 'hand up rather than a handout'.

"After four years of drought, which affects our river as much as it does our Valley, we have too many fishermen chasing too few fish," he said.

Mr Cansdell said the scheme would allocate $9 million over a four-year period to buy fishing licences from fishermen who wanted out.

"The idea is that the blokes who want to leave the industry can get out with a little bit of dignity," he said

Mr Cansdell said unlike other schemes, those fishermen accepting offers from the Coalition would be forced to sign declarations saying they would not re-enter the fishing trade for 20 years.

Mr Cansdell said operators who wished to be bought out would apply to an independent arbitrator who would make a decision on the worth of the licence according to market value.

He said the scheme would not offer compensation for fishing equipment such as vessels, nets or traps.

Clarence River Fishermen's Coop chairman George Baker said the announcement was a much needed boost for fishermen.

"Anything at this stage which has the potential to assist the industry is welcome," he said. "The fishing indus- try is in real crisis."

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