Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis at his office.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis at his office. Adam Hourigan

MP backs fishermen: 'They have been left behind'

"THEY have been left behind and I know I said they wouldn't be left behind because I was reassured they wouldn't be."

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said he disappointed in how local fishermen have been impacted by the NSW Government fishing reforms after being reassured they would come out of the restructures on top.

"It's such a complex industry, how you go forward to make sure you do it fairly and don't penalise people who have embraced the reform and rectify and resolve the fishermen who have been left behind," he said.

Following the minister for primary industries, regional water and trade and industries Niall Blair's letter published in The Daily Examiner about the success of the reforms, Mr Gulaptis said that successful was not how fishermen in the Clarence Valley had described the reforms to him.

"I will be raising it with the minister when Parliament resumes," he said.

"There are fishermen who have been left behind and we need to tweak the structure.

"There are fishermen who have had to buy back their jobs and still aren't at the same level as they were before the restructure."

Last week, Mr Gulaptis met with the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-Operative board, who expressed their concerns and made suggestions.

"I understand their concerns and they are (similar) to what has been raised to me by fishers," he said.

"I have compiled a list of their concerns... they have made some suggestions that hopefully the government will take on board."

Mr Gulaptis said there was no doubt the industry needed to be regulated, but he said the whole point of the restructure did not seem to be working.

"The whole point of the restructure, as far as I am concerned, was to remove the latent effort and allow them to exit the industry easily.

"I don't believe that has occurred. Yes there are fishers who are happy, I've spoken to some who are happy about the restructure, but there are a percentage who aren't happy.

"It's about how we fix it from here, there is no going back."

For the government to have spent $16 million on the restructure, Mr Gulaptis said it should be have been better managed.

"$16 million is a lot of money to inject into an industry and to see it not benefit all fishers is disappointing," he said.

"We've talked over these reforms for a number of years, there was a previous minister who certainly started the restructure and it was going south real quick."

Mr Gulatpis said other ministers who looked after areas of the state with fishing industries have expressed similar concerns with the reforms.



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