Labor Gov accused fishy business
LOCAL fishers have accused Labor of locking them out of a proposed marine reserve in exchange for Green preferences.
At a rowdy Ocean Shores meeting on Thursday night hundreds of fishers and industry stakeholders vented their anger at the proposal during a meeting called to protest at the move and the lack of consultation with locals.
The Federal Government has proposed a 3300 square kilometre marine reserve that would exclude commercial and recreational fishing to the north of the Cape Byron Marine Park.
Organiser Gerard O’Donnell, from fishing lobby group Byron-Tweed Community for a Fishing Future, was scathing of the pro-posal.
“There’s no science behind this whatsoever,” he said.
“It is government sheer bloody-mindedness.”
Mr O’Donnell said the move could cripple the local fishing industry, increasing the need toimport fish and cost the region countless tourist dollars.
“We’ve basically been given till the end of the month to respond to the powers-that-be, and there’s no way we can do it in that time frame.
“Some of our guys don’t have email and we need more time for fishing clubs to get together todiscuss it.”
Environment Minister Peter Garrett accused the Coalition of running a scare campaign, stating that the Government was aiming to strike a balance between ‘multiple use and highly-protected areas’.
In a department press release he said the consultation period had been extended and that all draft plans would be followed by a 90-day public consultation period.
Mr O’Donnell remains highly sceptical and believes it willbecome an election issue.
“Garrett said they will assess this after the election. Of course they will because they don’t want to stop it,” he said.
Queensland Nationals senator Ron Boswell attended the meeting saying it would impact heavily on ordinary blokes with a tinnie.
“The Greens demanded a quid pro quo for preferences and blue collar workers will be paying for it,” he said.