With a little under 7 weeks until the Queensland election on 31 October. Its worth dispelling some of the myths around the impacts of commercial fishing. Using Fisheries Queensland and QFish data sources there is a clear and disturbing trend facing commercial fishers and ultimately the ability of consumers to access fresh local seafood.
1. All Queensland Fisheries
Over the 2000-2019 period commercial fisher actively fishing and recording catch as is mandated by the State Government have decreased by 37.5 percent. The story is very different on a fishery by fishery basis.
2. Blue Swimmer, Mud and Spanner Crab Fisheries
In the Blue Swimmer and Mud Crab fisheries between 2000-2019 the reduction in commercial fishing is 38.4 percent. In the Spanner Crab (a quota managed fishery) the reduction is 65.5 percent.
3. Gulf of Carpentaria and East Coast Inshore Finfish Fisheries
In the Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Finfish fishery, the reduction of commercial fishing is 21.1 percent between 2000-2019. In the East Coast Inshore Finfish fishery, the reduction between 2000-2019 is 36.7 percent.
4. Gulf of Carpentaria and East Coast Line Fisheries
In the Gulf of Carpentaria Line fishery, the reduction of commercial fishing is 33.3 percent between 2000-2019. In the East Coast Line fishery, the reduction between 2000-2019 is 52.9 percent.
5. East Coast Otter and Beam Trawl Fisheries
In the East Coast Trawl fishery, the reduction of commercial fishing is 51.2 percent between 2000-2019. In the Beam Trawl fishery, the reduction between 2000-2019 is 57.8 percent.
Many policy decisions have led to the situation facing commercial fishing in Queensland and include:
- 2004 – Zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
- 2007 – Zoning of the Great Sandy Marine Park.
- 2008 – Zoning of the Moreton Bay Marine Park.
- Introduction of net free zones (NFZs).
- Introduction of quota management e.g. Spanner Crab fishery.
- Recreational fishing closures e.g. Pumicestone Passage.
We live and work in strange times. The State Government has badly underestimated the impacts of its so-called fisheries reform process.
Much has been said and written by the State Government about the need for reform from our fisheries being on the brink of collapse to industry profitability needing to improve as the underpinning need for change.
This Association has consistently made the argument that the sustainability argument is a lie and reflects the State propagandising on behalf of environmental groups. The second argument based on impacts of COVID-19. Again, a lie – small businesses across the Australia and globally have been impacted by a mass distortion of markets in both consumers being unable to move about freely as a result of practising social distancing and lock downs and simply being unable to spend money.
Quota will reduce commercial fishing numbers which meets the insistent need from radical recreational groups to take more seafood stocks and it meets the unspoken desire amongst environmental groups for fewer commercial fishers. Zoning compounds the stupidity of current fisheries management thinking by restricting the movement of commercial fishers leading to businesses restricted by geography for no scientific reason.
Queensland fisheries management does not need quota management or zoning to achieve workable harvest strategies. If we had been able to speak with and truly negotiate win-win fisheries management outcomes that benefit of industry, the environment and the community this industry would not be facing the loss of exports from the East Coast Inshore Finfish Fishery it faces now.
Until political parties of all colours build up the courage to stop pandering to environmental and recreational fishing groups the community will continue to see more imported seafood and less local Queensland seafood.
Author: Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA)
Image: Shane Snow, QSIA Director
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