ABOUT 100 people who attended the Future of Fishing Forum were vocal in their views on the Government’s lack of consultation when imposing restrictions on the industry.
The forum, organised by Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, heard from dozens of people in, or associated with, the commercial, sport and recreational fishing industry at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Club on Wednesday, February 22.
Many complained that the current Government, since being elected in 2007, had created obstacles that forced operators to either cut costs or leave the industry altogether.
“In formulating its policies to protect fish stocks, the Labor Government is pandering so much to green groups that they seem to have forgotten the needs of the various fishing industries,” Mr Entsch said.
“They talk about sustainability when they lock out fishers but they conveniently ignore the fact that they are turning fishing into an unsustainable practice.
“The complaints were heard loud and clear at the forum: the fishing industry, whether it be commercial, sport or recreation, has had enough of this current Government running their businesses into the ground because of legislation or regulations that have been devised from selective so-called scientific data.
“And I’m sick of it too. Fishing has been part of the Far North’s backbone since this region was settled and I don’t want to see the trade destroyed by ill-informed bureaucrats or politicians who are too frightened to challenge narrow-minded green groups.”
Mr Entsch and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fishing Senator Richard Colbeck spoke of the Coalition’s desire to involve the fishing industry more in the development of policies, legislation and regulations.
Attendees spoke of the industry’s gradual demise in the Far North and how they had been forced to scale back or completely close their operations.
“The forum was very productive there were many cases put forward and several valuable ideas proposed,” Mr Entsch said.
“It was quite feisty at times and we were challenged.
“But that’s what the meeting was about: to hear the grievances from key players in this industry and to work out solutions to fix the industry and get it thriving again.
“Of course, that will require balancing the interests of the industry with the need to preserve fish stocks but it can be done without completely destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people in this region.”
LNP State Election candidates Gavin King (Cairns), Michael Trout (Barron River) and Robyn Quick (Mulgrave) also spoke at the forum, emphasising the efforts their party would make to help the fishing industry.
Mr Entsch said a key factor in reviving the industry was changing the State Government’s attitude.
“The Queensland Government has failed to stand up for fishers,” he said.
“The Government has been content to follow the lead of the Commonwealth and bow to green groups, despite the fact that one of our state’s most important industries is reeling.
“There’s an opportunity to change all this at the upcoming state election.”