Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan, deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington, Burdekin MP Dale Last and LNP candidate for Mirani Kerry Latter by the Pioneer River yesterday.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan, deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington, Burdekin MP Dale Last and LNP candidate for Mirani Kerry Latter by the Pioneer River yesterday. Campbell Gellie

Fishers to dance on boat ramps as LNP back-flips on net-free zones stance

ONLY two years after fighting the State Government on its plan to form three net-free fishing zones, the LNP appears to have been convinced they are working.

Yesterday, while in Mackay, deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington announced the LNP would keep the three net-free fishing zones in place, a contrast to her motion two years ago, if her party was successful at the next state election.

Early results suggest the zones, offshore from Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton, have been effective in replenishing fish populations, and the fish are bigger too.

"(Mackay Recreational Fishing Alliance) has worked pretty hard once the net-free zones have been in and have been measuring the fish stocks in the data study we have been doing," president John Bennett said.

"It has been very positive. The fish stocks have been improving year by year.

"We were able to sit down with (Shadow Fisheries Minister Dale Last) and he was able to see the work that had gone on behind the scenes."

But it wouldn't just be a case of leaving the zones alone; Mr Last said the LNP was committed to reforming fisheries management policies in Queensland as outlined by as independent review.

"What we won't do in government is pit one sector against another and use fisheries management as a political football."

But Mackay Reef Fish Supplies owner David Caracciolo felt like it was all a game yesterday; he was left "bitterly disappointed" at the announcement.

In October in 2015, Mr Caracciolo went to Brisbane to stand alongside Mrs Frecklington, former LNP leader Lawrence Springborg, and other opposition members to try to block the net-free zones.

"We fought hard to stop the net-free zones because they are bad for Australian and Queensland consumers of fresh fish," he said.

On that late Tuesday night in Parliament the LNP lost the vote by five as independent member Billy Gordon, Katter's Australian Party members Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter sided with the government. "I'm bitterly disappointed," he said.

"Where do they think the fresh fish would come from? Everyone wants to buy local these days and not import their food but we're not allowed to catch their fresh fish."

But member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, who voted against the zones in October 2015, was happy the opposition had changed its tune.

"Recreational fishos in Belmunda, Halliday Bay, Ball Bay, Seaforth, Cape Hillsborough, Victor Creek, they will be dancing on the boat ramp because that's what they wanted to hear," he said.

What do you think of the net-free zones? Leave your comments below.



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