Marine Park 'disaster'
CLARENCE River Fisherman’s Co-op chairman David Anderson yesterday met with Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and Federal Member for Flinders Greg Hunt to discuss the possible impact of the proposed amendments to the Solitary Islands Marine Park.
The Coalition MPs have been meeting with commercial and recreational fishing representatives to outline their own proposed changes to the marine park, should they win the next federal election.
“This has been a disaster,” said Mr Hunt, referring to the latest marine park proposal.
“So we make a commitment, a guarantee that if we are elected we will remove the no take zones.”
Mr Hartsuyker said after holding similar meetings in the region, he recognised the issues were very similar in the various communities.
“The threat that Minister Garrett has proposed: rezoning is going to have an impact not only on commercial and recreational fishing but an effect to the wider economy,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
Mr Anderson, a fourth generation fisher, was not satisfied with the Federal Government’s consultation process.
“We believe that the process (of reviewing the guidelines) should involve as much consultation as possible to minimise the impact,” he said.
According to Mr Anderson, a flow-on effect is also likely if decisions are made incorrectly. This may result in shedding staff and holding off on investing in improved machinery.
“We’re at a crossroads now as an industry. Because there’s so much aging infrastructure ... we need to modernise our facilities to take advantage of possible future export markets to ensure our future viability,” Mr Anderson said.
George Baker, Director of the CRFC and board member of the Sydney Fish Market, said that he believed the proposed changes will not only have a major effect on the industry, but also towns along the coast, including Coffs Harbour, Ballina and the Clarence Valley.