Local fishers more confident after minister visit
CLARENCE Valley fishers believe they have won some important concessions in the proposed restructure of the industry which has been an ongoing issue for the past four years.
Clarence Valley Fishermen's Co-operative general manager Danielle Adams said local fishers were feeling more confident about the restructure after last Monday's visit by NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair and Primary Industries Department director general Scott Hansen.
Ms Adams said the industry had been in a holding pattern since the restructure was first mooted in 2012, an announcement that was met by almost total condemnation within the industry.
One major sticking point was the plan to buy fishermen out of the industry while requiring the remaining fishers to maintain the catch quantity for the public.
"I don't know how they expected less fishermen to catch more fish," Ms Adams said. "Just because they were going to get rid of four out of five fishermen, the one remaining was not going to catch the same amount of fish.
"That would really have impacted the industry."
Ms Adams said imports already accounted for 87% of seafood sales in NSW and the proposal would have forced that figure higher.
Ms Adams said she expects the minister to make an announcement regarding the restructure in the second quarter of the year.
"There's going to be a restructure and there will be some pain for the industry but from our discussion I think that pain won't be as great as we feared," she said.
"There was also a number of positive things for the industry's future, like a focus on growth, promoting the industry and looking at new entry programs to attract younger people into the industry as a career choice.
"There is definitely a lot more opportunities around than there were three years ago."
Wild Caught Fishers Coalition president Dane Van Der Neut said the industry needed to work hard to ensure its future.
"Promotion is critical if we are to protect one of Australia's oldest industries," he said.
"We must protect the rights of the farmers of the oceans and estuaries, which in turn will protect the public's rights to fresh and local wild-caught seafood."