Fishing reforms come under fire
IT WAS flagged as one of the biggest reforms the commercial fishing industry in NSW has confronted but options released earlier this month have been rejected by many in the industry as a disaster.
While the restructure is yet to be approved by NSW Minister of Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson, the options have not found favour in the Clarence Valley.
The Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) said the proposed restructure will eradicate young businesses in the sector and open the door to foreign-owned trawlers.
AMA board member and fisherman Dane Van Der Neut said if similar reforms were imposed on land-based primary producers there would be outrage.
"We smelt a rat and it's now evidently clear who is driving this agenda and it isn't the majority of NSW fisherman," Mr Van Der Neut said.
Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative (CRFC) general manager Danielle Adams said the feedback she had received from local industry figures had been overwhelmingly negative.
"It's worse than what anybody anticipated," she said.
Representing more than 130 members, the co-op supplies 1.5 million kilograms of fresh product to the market each year, making it one of the biggest seafood producers in the country.
CRFC business development manager Gary Anderson said one of the biggest concerns with the proposed reform package is the anticipated drop in what passes through the co-op.
He estimated local catches would fall by as much as 60% as many fishers exit the industry.
"It's a hell of a change," he said, predicting the flow-on effect would be a huge blow to the stake holders and the local economy.Mr Anderson said Minister Hodgkinson had to intervene before it is too late and he is not alone.
More than 500 supporters have already signed an online petition rejecting the proposed changes on the basis that they will destroy the NSW fishing industry and leave many out of work.
"These fishermen, they just want to go to work and catch fish, not to Parliament House and jump up and down," Mr Anderson said.
Representatives of the NSW Department of Primary Industries will discuss the reforms with stakeholders in a series of community meetings.
DPI representatives will be in Maclean on Thursday, May 1 at the Jim Thompson Pavilion, Maclean Showground from 2-6pm.
Minister Hodgkinson is scheduled to announce the final reform package in August.