MORE than 26,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Queensland government to stop introducing net-free fishing zones in north and central Queensland.
Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Deb Frecklington and Shadow Environment Minister Stephen Bennett were presented with the 1000 page petition at Parliament House on Monday.
“This petition has some 26,000 signatures on it, demonstrating a huge amount of support for the 53 commercial fishing families who are directly impacted by Labor’s policy decision and for the commercial fishing sector in general,” Ms Frecklington said.
Last month, the government announced it would move on its election promise and implement three net-free fishing zones in the state before the end of the year.
The most northern zone extends 147 square kilometres from St Helens Beach to Cape Hillsborough, the central zone covers 2000 kilometres between Keppel Bay and Fitzroy River while the southern net free zone covers 85 kilometres at Trinity Bay.
The commercial fishing industry claims the state government failed to consult with industry over the bans and say they will destroy countless businesses.
This is despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promising a large group of angry fishers at the Rockhampton Community Cabinet that they would be consulted on the proposed changes.
Last week, 10 fish wholesalers through the state took part in a boycott of fresh, local fish in protest to the proposed bans.
Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) president Karen Collard said the proposed ban had been engineered by keen recreational fishermen who believed they would catch more fish under the plan and supported by some politicians “because they think it might get them more votes”.
Ms Collard slammed also the World Wildlife Fund, which came out in public support of the bans, saying no Australian primary producer should trust the organisation
“WWF is enacting a long-term plan to end all fishing in Australian waters – and exert the maximum possible control over all other primary industries as well,” she said.
“By supporting the decrease of Queensland seafood production, WWF are increasing demand on poorly managed foreign food sources and obstructing consumers’ choice."
Ms Collard said QSIA had worked co-operatively with WWF on a number of issues and believed they were making progress.
“This latest action is treacherous.”
QSIA executive officer, Eric Perez said WWF had “no bottom line” when it came to acceptable fishing in Australian waters.
“This must be a warning to all primary producers in Queensland: do not trust WWF,” he said.
“Whether you are a fisherman, a cattle producer, a cane farmer or any other primary producer, WWF will try to control what you do and use every trick in the book to restrict your activities.”
Ms Frecklington said the LNP firmly believed the positions of recreational fishermen and commercial fishermen were not mutually exclusive.
“The LNP’s vision for fishing is to have a world-class fisheries management system that’s simple, robust, responsive and flexible in delivering sustainable managed fisheries for the benefit of all Queenslanders,” she said.
“We do not support revoking netting licences held by commercial fishermen without adequate and fair compensation for their loss.”
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said at the time of the announcement that Cabinet had considered the feedback from more than 6300 public submissions received during the recent consultation process.
“Ninety per cent of submissions were in favour of introducing net-free zones,” Mr Byrne said.