A Raw deal for local fishermen
CLARENCE River fishos' frustration with State politicians continues after a Bill to mandate labelling of Australian caught seafood in restaurants and other outlets failed to pass State Parliament.
NSW Parliament last week voted on a Private Member's Bill introduced by the Labor MP for The Entrance, David Mehan.
The Food Amendment (Seafood Country of Origin Labelling) Bill 2017 would have required restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs to display whether the seafood on offer was imported or caught in Australia. Provisions were in the Bill for mixed sources such as marinara.
The Bill was defeated 46 to 35. Only National and Liberal MPs opposed the Bill.
The general manager of the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative, Danielle Adams, said the co-op was disappointed the issue continued to drag on.
"Legislation to promote local caught seafood ahead of imports was one of the things the government promised as part of the restructure of the fishing industry," Ms Adams said.
"We were disappointed the Bill didn't go through. The way the industry is headed we thought it was essential for our future."
Ms Adams said Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who voted against the Bill, had reassured her there were good reasons for not passing it.
"He's promised the government will come up with something better in the future," she said.
Ms Adams said she was not aware the ALP had put up a private members bill.
"I hadn't heard anything from them, or the government for that matter," she said.
Mr Gulaptis denied the government was playing politics by voting down the Bill because it originated from the Opposition.
"The Bill Labor submitted was not comprehensive and was poorly thought out," Mr Gulaptis said.
"For example it wanted industry labelling, but did not stipulate any measures to cover non-compliance."
He said the Bill also failed to consider Federal Government's country of origin labelling legislation.
The NSW Opposition slammed the government for failing to support the Bill, despite promising to introduce similar legislation 18 months ago.
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Mick Veitch said the Government has become bogged down in the botched roll-out of commercial fishing reforms which have destroyed many small family run fishing businesses up and down the coast.
"The Government has botched the commercial fishing reforms from day one - and are now voting down a Bill they promised back in 2016," he said.
"National and Liberal MPs had a chance here to stand up for our seafood industry - our fishers, co-ops and the many seafood outlets that want to promote locally caught seafood."
Labor has said that the disastrous reforms would negatively impact coastal economies and place a cloud over the ongoing viability of fishing co-ops and other businesses which supply equipment and goods to the fishing industry.
"Many clearly didn't know what they were voting down - and coastal communities won't forget this in the lead up to the 2019 election," Mr Veitch said.