Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has contacted Minister for Fisheries Mark Furner seeking an urgent simplification of the new catch reporting processes for commercial fishermen as well as better support and training for fisheries officers and commercial fisherman. He said this needs to be part of the roll out of the latest Sustainable Fisheries reforms that came into effect on September 1.
Mr Dametto was concerned by reports that little to no support or training had been provided to commercial operators to help them adjust to the new reporting requirements.
“A number of my constituents have contacted their local fisheries offices and found those officers tasked with ensuring compliance were unable to provide clear answers to many of the commercials fisherman’s questions,” he said.
“The reforms and the need to report catch in real time in paper logbooks is causing unworkable logistical problems for many, filling out paper logbooks may work on a trawler with a dry wheelhouse but is a very different scenario when working out of a tinny in a region with some of the country’s highest rainfall.”
September 1 saw 13 new harvest strategies take effect, single reporting requirements across all fisheries, new management regions, several changes to fishing rules such as vessel size and quota and regional effort units – crab, east coast inshore and trawl.
He said having to carry a briefcase full of reporting logbooks on a boat with blood, guts and bait in the middle of a wet season just isn’t practical.
“The reporting process was expected to modernise and streamline fisheries management in our State, not load up fishermen with a pile of paperwork.
“There is now a lot of anxiety circulating around possible future regulation changes and access to fishing grounds.
“The North Queensland commercial fishing community has faced their fair share of hardships over the years, and although I acknowledge that there’s an important need to manage the fishery, no one that enjoys buying fresh local seafood wants to see commercial fishermen walk away from the industry,” Mr Dametto said.
Mr Dametto is calling on the State Government to follow through on their word and provide education and support to the commercial operators that have been impacted by these reforms.
“You can’t just mail out a pile of reporting logs and expect operators to know what to do with them without proper guidance,” he said.
“These reforms came into effect as of the September 1, the education should have been rolled out months ago.
“The Government has effectively ruled a line through the taxi industry, they continue to increase regulations for the sugarcane farmers and now I question are these fishery reforms another example of the state playing ‘Big Brother’ tactics in a bid to reduce commercial fishing. If that is their motive, then why not save everyone the pain over the next 10 years and start buying back licenses.”