A view of the Queensland seafood industry reform

Posted in Industry News

David Caracciolo, owner of Mackay Reef Fish Supplies and QSIA Director has contacted Senators by putting pen to paper outlining the issues faced by Queensland commercial fishers.

Dear Senators

I write this letter to you all to bring to your attention the injustices that will be heaped onto the inshore net fisherman, mud crab fisherman and the trawl sector and the seafood wholesalers along the Queensland Coast if these reforms go through in the form they are proposed.

The commercial sector has been attending the consultancy workshops in Brisbane to add our input into a management process that will benefit all involved and the resource which is what this is all about, but unfortunately we cannot help to feel that our input has not is not being valued at all.

We feel that Government had made there mind up about the management options they preferred long before these meetings took place we feel our inclusion were only held so Government could say they consulted with industry we have had members resign from this process due to this fact.

If the reforms go through they will cause financial and mental hardship to a fisherman and land base businesses, under this quota system that is proposed, crab and net operators will loose 80 or more percent of there catching rights they have now nobody can absorb such a loss.

These operators run small one to two man operations they make a living only and provide local seafood for local people in these coastal towns, these coastal towns rely on small business like these to keep their economies going they contribute to local communities both physically and financially they do not burden the Government with any cost as fisherman never get any assistance from government.  If this reform goes through in the form it in I would hate to think what the outcome maybe as these people have nowhere to go so have been fishing for 30-60 years and that is all they know, not mention what some may do faced with no options.

They once had a living providing food for the general public now they have had there rights taken away in one move and there licenses that had a value of X amount are now worthless.

Some of the methods they have used to formulate quota allocations to a license we find very hard to understand and feel no consideration were given to some factors. Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton had net free zones (NFZ) implemented for political gain at the start of 2016 so the loss there of catch rate was not taken into account. Rockhampton alone produced 37% of the state’s fresh Barramundi and 27% of the Threadfin Salmon.  The years 2016/17/18 were part of the 5 years they used to determine our catch rates per year, why?  Then we have the years they used crab 7 year history, trawl 10 year history and net 5 year history with NFZs in the middle of it why would you do that if you want accurate data why the different time periods for the fisheries?

I can only emphasize to you how fisherman feel and that they have not been treated fairly.

We then come to the post-harvest sector which I am also majorly involved in and we rely on these operators to supply fish to us to sell to the general public, to the tourist trade, hospitality markets and export overseas if this reform goes through it will be the end of this supply chain we have had for 30 years plus.

The ramifications of this if some operators can stay in lease quota or buy they will have to get the best money they can for their produce due to added costs they will look for southern markets which will pay more and we wont be able to compete on the market and what produce is left will bypass us.

At present, Mackay Reef Fish Supplies employs 14 People and we started business in 1986. I can see this forcing us to shut our doors along with other operators, the NFZs caused us a lot lost supply this would be the last nail I am afraid.

I do hope you will read this and take it on board as I not only see the end for us but the whole inshore crab and net fisheries if this goes ahead.

Author: David Caracciolo, Owner – Mackay Reef Fish Supplies and QSIA Director

Image: QSIA

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