The following is the association’s response to yesterday’s 4 Corners program.
ALARMING is the most appropriate way to describe the issues addressed by the 4 Corners program aired on Monday 2 July. “The program only confirms what industry knows through the various reviews undertaken by government – our industry has been let down by poor pre-border and border policy around the importation of prawn and prawn products” said Keith Harris, President of the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).
The 4 Corners story examined the Federal government’s broad biosecurity failings and specifically gaming of the import system by some importers and former biosecurity inspectors. “The Federal government has a lot to answer for and has still not been held to account for its failures. More importantly and what was not covered in the 4 Corners program is the ongoing impact of white spot on commercial fishers”.
“Commercial fishers and their families in Moreton Bay have been forgotten. My industry’s markets have been impacted by an ongoing movement restriction on crustaceans in Moreton Bay” said Mr Harris.
With almost two years since the incursion of white spot in the Logan River and later Moreton Bay industry is still waiting for financial assistance and compensation. “My guess is unless industry take action themselves no amount of public shaming will move the Federal government to provide assistance without pushing for a deed arrangement with the wild catch sector. A deed is not the way forward for the wild catch sector and would never provide compensation to industry beyond the costs associated with eradication efforts” said Mr Harris.
“Prawn farmers have been significantly impacted so too have trawl and crab fishers, beach and blood wormers. The marine resource was compromised by poor border controls and the impacts on commercial fishing is ongoing”.
“I doubt the program will move the Federal government to compensate industry but at the very least its failures have been brought to light and will increase scrutiny of its biosecurity policy approach for the Australian seafood industry” said Mr Harris.
Author: Eric Perez, CEO – Queensland Seafood Industry Association
Image: Biosecurity Plan for the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery, page 17, photograph Dr Ben Diggles, DigsFish Services
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