Trawlers at Ballina Marina.
Trawlers at Ballina Marina.

National body a net cast too wide for local fishers

PLANS to establish a national peak body for Australia's wild catch seafood, aquaculture and post-harvest fisheries have been met with a mixed response from local fishers.

Seafood business leaders met in Adelaide last week to discuss the recommended structure and funding model for the national body.

NSW Wildcaught Coalition of Fishers board member Phil Hilliard, from Ballina, said any peak body would have some significant challenges to overcome.

"The problem with all of these organisations is you're dealing with a lot of small businesses and groups that compete against each other out in the world, and it can be hard to bring everyone together to talk about common issues and problems," he said.

"If we can't get everybody together, we suffer at a local level, we suffer at a regional level and a state level and a national level because of it."

Fourth-generation commercial fisher Steve Everson isn't convinced a national body would benefit fishers, and would rather see a peak state body first.

"NSW is the one that's in a mess at the moment, and that's what I would like to see looked after," the Clarence River fisherman said.

"At the moment there's problems at the state level, and there's nothing at the state level to get the voice of fishers heard.

"We would be stronger if we were going through a united body, and if we could be united we can put across a decent plan and a debate and a clear view, but at this stage there's too much fragmentation, and without a peak body for NSW there's no level playing field.

"We need to get everyone at the table and talk about the problems everyone is facing before we can worry about a national body."

Mr Hilliard said a peak national body would benefit local fishers by providing a powerful voice in Canberra to get their concerns heard.

"A national body could bring national issues to the attention of the politicians," he said.

"No one locally is going to be able to fight those fights but if we have a body that can go to Canberra with these issues it will help get results."



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