Co-op to protest trawling ban

The flyer to be circulated at the Sydney Fish Markets today.
The flyer to be circulated at the Sydney Fish Markets today.

COMMERCIAL fishers are taking their fight to the big smoke.

The Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Cooperative will today bombard shoppers at the Sydney Fish Markets with the facts on how the State Government’s proposed prawn trawling ban in the Solitary Island Marine Park will directly affect them.

Just as the State Government fights for votes in Sydney through policy, the local fishermen’s cooperative will fight for support in protest, handing out a brochure to every seafood buyer at the country’s busiest outlet.

The flyer, made with the support of the NSW Seafood Industry Council, details how Coffs Harbour provides 22 per cent of the king prawn catch sold on the scales in Sydney.

“Seafood and jobs will be gone if the NSW Government’s review process is realised,” Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Cooperative chair Russell Kerr said.

“If the proposal to increase sanctuary zones and ban prawn trawling is enacted, the viability of the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative will be compromised and, in short, the co-operative, which injects $16 million into the community, may not survive.

“This in turn will impact on jobs, other small businesses and, of course, the seafood retailers who sell fresh local seafood to the public.”

Put simply, he said, the ban on trawling within two years will mean the market will not keep up with the demand for fresh seafood.

“Not only will the local availability of fresh seafood be eliminated at certain times of the year, particularly the summer months when prawn trawlers pursue prawns and other species in shallower water, but seafood consumers will experience a decline in fresh Australian prawns under these unnecessary restrictions,” he said.

The Coffs Co-op states the local fishing fleet adheres to sustainability assessments, including environmental impact studies, fisheries management strategies and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

This week the pro fishermen received the backing of local recreational fishing groups.

“We all need to see the ‘best available science’ that is independent and robust,” Geoff Parker Director of Coffs Coast ECOfishers said.

“Coffs recreational fishers find it most curious, that all six NSW marine parks, with different biodiversity and ecosystems, all have about the same level of preservation – all about 20 per cent.

“Local seafood consumers and fishers can’t be conned by shonky science and rubbery data.”

In short, the co-operative, which injects $16 million into the community, may not survive.

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