Disappointed, underwhelmed and frustrated are some of the words Queensland Seafood Industry Association executive officer David Bobberman has used to describe his industry's response to the announcement by the Queensland government of the financial terms on offer to gillnet fishermen.
"We're going to fight this, no doubt about it," Mr Bobberman said. "For all primary producers - if we roll over, who's next."
Making the announcement on Friday afternoon, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Environment Minister Leanne Linard said commercial fishers would receive generous financial assistance, including buybacks, reskilling and financial advice following the announcement that gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area would be phased out by mid-2027.
The assistance is part of a $185 million joint Commonwealth and Queensland government package, which adopts all the recommendations made by the Future Fishing Taskforce.
They said the phasing out of gillnets and the transition to "more sustainable fishing practices" was a key measure to prevent the Great Barrier Reef from being listed as "in danger" by UNESCO.
Of the $185 million joint package announced, the state government has committed $125 million to implement the phasing out of gillnets on the Great Barrier Reef, rezoning the Great Sandy Marine Park, and increasing protection from gillnet impacts in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The breakdown of the Palaszczuk government's $125 million contribution is:
Transition to the new arrangements will begin from December 31.
Mr Bobberman said there was no doubt that the industry would be fighting the change.
He said the government would be rescinding licences and offering $60,000 for an N2 licence.
"The indicative value is well below our knowledge of transactions made within the last 12 months, where licences were sold for $100,000 to $120,000," he said.
He described it not as a buyback but as a starving out of fishermen.
"A licence is a property right but this has been done without any negotiation," he said. "It's all calculated behind closed doors."
Mr Bobberman said the QSIA had engaged a lawyer to look at their legal rights.
Once they had that opinion, they would know their course of action.
"We're going to fight for our right to feed the nation," he said.
The government announcement said Fisheries Queensland will contact licence holders about arrangements to access structural readjustment payments and new fishery symbols with a Q&A that will assist commercial fishers in understanding their entitlements.
It also said the state government acknowledged the difficulties the commercial fishing industry was facing and had partnered with Stay Afloat to provide confidential mental health support and advice to commercial fishers.
Mr Furner said the landmark investments demonstrate the Palaszczuk government's commitment to a sustainable fishing industry supporting good jobs well into the future.
"This package gives the certainty that our commercial fishing industry needs to plan and be able to ensure the ongoing supply of Queensland seafood that has built a global reputation," he said.
"Aquaculture will never replace Queensland's wild-caught commercial fishing industry, but it does have an ongoing role to play in complementing the state's supplies of fresh seafood while growing hundreds more good jobs for Queenslanders.
"The wild-caught fishing industry will only exist if it is in a sustainable position."
Ms Linard said the phasing out of gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef and the rezoning of Great Sandy Marine Park were important reforms that would ensure these areas and the iconic species of the Great Barrier Reef are protected so they could be enjoyed by future generations.
"Threatened, endangered and protected species including dugongs, snubfin dolphins, turtles, sharks and sawfish can become entangled in gillnets and be injured or killed.
"The latest science tells us that the populations of species such as dugong cannot afford any human-induced mortalities
The gillnet fishery in the Great Barrier Reef provides 2.6 per cent of the east coast wild-caught seafood harvest.
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