LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has highlighted the hypocrisy surrounding fisheries management in the Coral Sea and tuna ‘overfishing’ in the Federal Parliament today.
Mr Entsch said he had been following with interest the media coverage of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting that is currently being held in Cairns.
“For a long time I have argued against the massive overregulation of the Australian fishing industry, which has killed off many of our local operators,” he said. “My concern has been absolutely reinforced by the information coming out of this conference.”
Mr Entsch quoted from conference delegate and ANU Emeritus Professor Dr Robert Kearney, who has managed tuna research in the Pacific for almost a decade.
“We have gifted our share of the world’s biggest fishery to other countries, because it’s impossible to be a major player in that industry from our domestic catch unless that resource is available to us.”
Added Mr Entsch: “We decided to save the tuna population of the Coral Sea by shutting down our last surviving tuna fisherman in that area, who took 300 tonnes in his last year. Papua New Guinea took 1.7 million tonnes and New Caledonia took 2.1 million tonnes. So Australia made a great contribution.”
Mr Entsch said it beggared belief that the former Labor government, acting under the “insidious influence of that gangrenous organisation called the Pew Charitable Trusts”, has destroyed family businesses that have been operating sustainably for generations.
“At the same time, it is open slather for other countries, which are gaining a windfall from the fish that are swimming out of our waters,” he said. “Their exports fill the vast majority of our canned tuna imports.
“What is even more appalling is that Cairns’ only surviving commercial tuna fish company, Great Barrier Reef Tuna owned by the Lamason family, was not even invited to a single session of this week-long conference.
“This is typical of fish management: you get the bureaucrats into the room and lock out the fishermen while decisions are made that affect their futures.
“We must have a seat at the table, demanding our fair share of the tuna take in the Coral Sea fishery. This would be a good basis for a start to re-establishing just one element of a sustainable fishery in Australia.”