Fishing law 'pleases absolutely no one', could cost 70 Clarence jobs

LABOR has urged the Baird Government to completely rewrite a bill it says "pleases absolutely no one" from commercial fishers to weekend line-wetters.

Many of the most controversial proposed changes to commercial fishing laws have been dropped from the Fisheries Management Bill, to be debated at a later date.

The industry claims those reforms - that would force fishers to effectively buy back their jobs in order to continue working - would jeopardise at least 70 jobs in the Clarence and another 30 in Ballina.

The current bill introduces stronger habitat protection and biosecurity measures and authorises scientific observers to collect data from commercial and charter fishing operations.

"While observers will have authority to observe fishing activities, they will have no powers to direct fishing activities and they must not unreasonably interfere with fishing operations," Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said.

Indigenous groups would be given stronger roles in the industry and licences and charter boat seats would be transferable separate from vessels to be traded among the industry.

"It appears the minister is taking an approach to this bill that would make a virtue of pleasing absolutely no one - as if to say if no one is happy then we must be placed right in the centre and, therefore, doing something right," Labor MP Mick Veitch said.

"It became apparent that the numerous changes would require nothing less than a significant rewrite of the bill.

"That is the job of the government, not the Opposition."

But the changes did please one major proponent of the industry - Robert Brown from the Shooters and Fishers Party.

"We are putting our reputation on the line here, because we are the Shooters and Fishers Party," he said.

"People come to us to see whether we can ameliorate the bad, encourage the good and achieve the best outcome.

"So I am putting my take on where we are on the line, just as the Opposition has.

"One hopes that a minister who is prepared to engage face to face with the stakeholders will come up with the right answers."


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