STATE Member for Bega Andrew Constance was this morning due to make a media statement at the Merimbula Lake Boat Ramp in regards to proposed netting/meshing in estuaries.
More on that later, but in the meantime, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, also today announced an extension for submissions on a series of options papers which propose changes to the commercial fisheries industry.
Ms Hodgkinson said the closing date for submissions on the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program has been extended to 5pm, Friday 30 May.
“The NSW Government is undertaking a comprehensive consultation process as part of the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program, which aims to improve the long-term viability of the commercial fishing industry,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“Before any key decisions are made, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will comprehensively study the range of views put forward during the consultation process, in order to make these options as fair as possible.
“It is important that fishers use this period to advise how they believe the options could be best modified or improved.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has allocated $16 million to assist those commercial fishers wanting to leave the industry to do so, in the form of exit grants.”
Ms Hodgkinson said this week NSW DPI Fisheries Managers completed a series of port visits, held at Sydney, Galston, Newcastle, Forster/Tuncurry, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Maclean, Ballina, Tweed Heads, Lake Illawarra, Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Bermagui and Eden.
“I have personally met with a number of commercial fishers on the North and South Coasts and acknowledge that the issues are complex and some major concerns have been raised during the consultation process,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“I strongly urge commercial and recreational anglers, and other interested members of the community, to carefully examine the options papers and make a submission.
“At the completion of the consultation process the submissions, input from key stakeholder groups and advice from DPI will be considered by an independent Structural Adjustment Review Committee, which will then provide advice to the NSW Government.”
The options papers and further information about the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program can be found at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/commercial/reform
Shadow Minister calls it a revolt
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan says that the Baird Government’s Commercial Fishing reforms have gone off-track, losing the support of fishers around the state and he encourages more Government MPs to revolt against Minister Hodgkinson’s reform process.
“The Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis is right to revolt against the Liberal/National Government’s reforms to the fishing industry,” said Mr Whan.
“These reforms will have a negative impact on coastal fishing communities and government MPs are right to be fighting these proposals.
“There are hundreds of commercial fishers in NSW, who contribute $90 million annually to the NSW economy and who support thousands of jobs in wholesale, transport and seafood processing.
“Mr Gulaptis’ protests in his local media demonstrate the real uncertainty about the Liberal/Nationals Government’s proposed reforms – reforms it has previously argued had the support of the industry.
“There are commercial fishers right up and down the coast who are really concerned about how these reforms could impact their business. These are mum and dad businesses and it seems that the Liberal/National Government could destroy their financial viability.
“The Department of Primary Industries’ options look at either forcing fishers to buy up extra shares to make up their catch sizes or force them out altogether.
“Minister Hodgkinson has an appalling record with restructures, the Local Land Services have been a debacle, we have seen massive cuts to biosecurity and agricultural support and we saw the closure of the Cronulla Fisheries.
“This latest process looks like endangering not just the fishing businesses but the domestic seafood supply to the consumers of NSW.” Mr Whan said.