Reboot fishing reforms, says shadow minister
THE Government should go back to the drawing board on commercial fishing reforms after an overwhelming industry rejection, the shadow minister for primary industries Steve Whan said.
Mr Whan said meetings involving more than 600 commercial fishers along the NSW coast have rejected, almost unanimously, the Government's proposed commercial fishing reforms.
"This number represents the overwhelming majority of estuary and ocean fishers right across the state," he said.
Commercial fishers in Ballina and Evans Head have already voiced their opposition to the proposed changes.
The government commissioned a report into commercial fishing in 2013 that highlighted challenges for the industry in coming decades.
Mr Whan said although he recognised the challenges, the starting point for the reform should have been industry buy-in and participation.
"There is real concern that these fishers are being forced out of business and we will lose the opportunity to have quality, local fish available for consumption," he said.
"There are family businesses that are trying to make ends meet just like any other small business in NSW and a lot of them have spent decades in the one profession."
But NSW minister for primary industries Katrina Hodgkinson said reform needs to happen to ensure the long term financial and environmental sustainability of the fishing industry.
"The Commercial Fisheries Reform Program is to provide meaning to the shares so that fishing effort can be effectively managed," Ms Hodgkinson has said.
"The program is designed to assist the transferral of shares from those who aren't using them into the hands of more active fishers, to solidify a positive future for commercial fishers who rely on this industry, and the broader industry."
Mr Whan said the government needs to put their packages on hold and undergo more industry consultation.
"We all want a sustainable fishing industry but that means sustainable businesses. The government is taking the wrong approach if that is indeed the goal of these reforms."