Danielle Adams - general manager of the Clarence River Fishermans Coop.
Danielle Adams - general manager of the Clarence River Fishermans Coop. Adam Hourigan

$436M fishing industry valued five times higher than Govt figures

A TWO-year academic study of the NSW fishing industry highlights the damage the State Government's proposals will do to the industry says a local industry leader.

The general manager of the Clarence River Fishermen's Cooperative, Danielle Adams, said the Valuing Coastal Fisheries report by the University of Technology Sydney, revealed the true value of the industry to the state and the Clarence Valley.

"Unfortunately DPI have greatly undervalued our industry for many years using their below average figures to build a unconvincing case of reform and restructure," Ms Adams said.

"However, you can see from the very real numbers displayed by the UTS, our industry is valued at more than $436 million - a far greater value than the published figure of $85 million by the government."

Ms Adams thanked the UTS team headed by Associate Professor Kate Barclay, for undertaking the huge task of collating all the figures, which revealed the real state of the industry.

"This study and its results clearly demonstrates the detrimental impact the poorly managed, poorly planned and poorly delivered reform our industry is facing under the current fisheries management regime and their attempts to undervalue our industry," Ms Adams said.

"We are greatly concerned of what the snow ball effect it will have on the coastal communities from border to border.

"Being a large business in a regional coastal community we are anxious of what the future holds for our business, our fishing fleet and what fresh, local seafood will be available for our local and visiting seafood loving customers."

Stats catch

  • 94% of the general public in NSW believes it is important that seafood continues to be produced in NSW
  • 96% believe buying local seafood is better for the local community
  • 89% of NSW residents expect to eat fresh local seafood when holidaying on the coast, 76% say it is an important part of their coastal visit experience
  • 60% of professional fishers have helped out with search and rescue operations in estuaries and coastal waters
  • Fishing is part of the heritage of many towns
  • 78% of recreational fishers across the state prefer local bait

Associate Professor Barclay said the findings show professional fishing is an essential part of the fabric of communities.

"It supports and is in turn supported by an intertwining range of community life and work-related activities," she said.

"It generates vital income and jobs in rural towns. It is also very much interdependent with other businesses including gear suppliers, mechanics, fuel providers, freight and helps support tourism and hospitality with sought-after fresh locally caught seafood."

The study produced a fact sheet on which can be downloaded from the UTS website www.uts.edu.au.

It revealed the Clarence, while small geographically is the most productive area in NSW.

It showed its importance to the Clarence economy generating more than $60 million in revenue and more than 650 full time local jobs.

This includes $26m, and 237 jobs, from the industry and the businesses that service it and approximately $34m and 415 jobs from the secondary processing, wholesale and retail sector.

The fishing industry is an important part of the history of the Clarence and was fundamental to the development of Maclean, Iluka and Yamba.

Residents of the area expressed high levels of concern over the loss of community identity (78% concerned) and the loss of a 'way of life' for fishers (80% concerned) if fishing were to be further restricted.

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