Commercial fisheries review under fire

STATE Member and NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance last week called the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) proposals for netting in Merimbula’s Top Lake “ludicrous and clumsy”.

MERIMBULA MEETING: State Member Andrew Constance was in Merimbula to speak with protesters of the netting proposals, and will be returning to Parliament with around 2500 signatures.

MERIMBULA MEETING: State Member Andrew Constance was in Merimbula to speak with protesters of the netting proposals, and will be returning to Parliament with around 2500 signatures.

“There has been a lack of foresight into how the community would react. This is ludicrous and clumsy and I want this killed. For Merimbula Lake it needs to be ruled out straightaway,” Mr Constance said.

There are also changes to netting at Coila and Wapengo lakes and the Clyde River, as well as changes for netting of pelagics including kingfish.

Mr Constance was in Merimbula to speak with protesters of the netting proposals, and will be returning to Parliament with around 2500 signatures.

“The community has been highly agitated by the DPI’s action. This is where the community is most exercised. This is a proposal but let’s keep the pressure on. I am very unhappy with the way this process has rolled out. The DPI needs to be put on notice.”

There are about 40 commercial fishing licences along the coast between the border and Batemans Bay. At meetings between commercial fishermen and the fisheries officials at Eden and Bermagui, it was clear that the commercial fishermen were not happy either.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson also last week announced an extension for submissions on the commercial fisheries restructure.

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.

“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.”

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 for Primary Industries Steve Whan meanwhile said reforms had gone off-track, losing the support of fishers around the state.

“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.”

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