Chasing a catch: Tweed Heads trawlerman of 18 years, Ben Green, regularly makes his way down south to Ballina to take advantage of some of the best fishing grounds on the east coast of Australia.
Chasing a catch: Tweed Heads trawlerman of 18 years, Ben Green, regularly makes his way down south to Ballina to take advantage of some of the best fishing grounds on the east coast of Australia. Jay Cronan

Fishermen generate $36m

COMMERCIAL fishing on the Northern Rivers generates more than $36 million of direct income every year, contributing $216 million to the local economy.

Almost $17 million of that comes out of Ballina.

Phil Hilliard, general manger of the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-op, said it showed the importance of the local fishing industry, which also generates about 75 jobs and a direct income of $2.9 million

“Those of us in the industry are aware of its value,” he said. “But I really do think that people underestimate the value of fishing here.

“We need to do something to make sure that this industry continues to grow.”

Two-thirds of the money generated is spent locally.

The Northern Rivers fishing industry also provides about one-third of the fish landed in the whole of NSW.

Executive officer of the Professional Fisherman’s Association, John Harrison, said its new report, ‘Socio-economic evaluation of the commercial fishing industry in the Ballina, Clarence and Coffs Harbour regions’, showed the industry made an ‘enormous contribution’.

“The report will be critical in relation to the ever-pressing issue of access for the commercial sector,” he said.

“Access is threatened through marine planning processes and other pressures that continually try to preclude the commercial sector.”

Mr Hilliard said Ballina fishermen were not against marine parks, but said consultation was needed.

“There are a lot of areas where professional fishermen don’t go because they are fish nurseries, mudflats or seagrass areas,” he said.

“They know that if they fish there today, there won’t be any fish there tomorrow.

“Our fishermen are aware of the long-term effects.”



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