Pro fisherman Dion Bartley and Allan Robinson are unhappy with the proposed new rules.
Pro fisherman Dion Bartley and Allan Robinson are unhappy with the proposed new rules.

Fishermen's Co-op on the line

THE future of the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-op is on the line, along with the livelihood of 50 professional fishers and more than 100 local families.

That’s the bleak reality if the State Government bans prawn trawlers fishing in the Solitary Island Marine Park in two year’s time.

“This is a fishermen’s co-operative, you can’t have a seafood business if you don’t have local fishermen,” local prawn trawler Russell Kerr said.

The Coffs seafood industry was yesterday gobsmacked after reading the State Government’s draft changes to the Solitary Island Marine Park management plan.

The Professional Fishermen’s Association went as far to say it’s the death knell of NSW’s wild harvest fishing industry, threatening anyone whose living is connected to the seafood industry.

The impact, it claims, is far reaching from seafood workers, fishmongers, ship wrights, refrigerator mechanics, truck drivers right through to local restaurant owners and staff.

“From a retailer’s point of view, this will decimate our business,” Coffs Co-op’s Shane Geary said.

“These are some of the most productive king prawn fishing grounds off the east coast and the draft plan if adopted would also impact on trap and line fishermen catching kingfish and lobsters.”

At the same time commercial fishermen also face uncertainty over the future fishing of Commonwealth Waters, outside of the Solitary Islands marine park.

The Federal Government is reviewing its marine zones, with its policy open to consultation next year.

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