The livelihoods of fishers and their families, associated with the Coffs Harbour Co-Op, are a worry.
The livelihoods of fishers and their families, associated with the Coffs Harbour Co-Op, are a worry.

Fish ban to threaten livelihoods

MARK Espert says he’s never had to worry so much about the mouths he feeds.

Still fishing under the uncertainty of the Solitary Islands Marine Park review, the Sawtell trap and line fisher says it’s not just his own family future that he has at heart.

“I am not just standing here being selfish, saying my livelihood and my family’s at threat,” Mr Espert said.

“I’m speaking out for all the fishing families associated with the Coffs Harbour Co-Op. I want to tell the public that if they want to keep buying fresh locally-caught seafood they better tell the government what they think of this draft plan,” he said.

Mr Espert is one of 46 members stocking the Co-Op with wild harvest seafood. His daily catch comprises snapper, kingfish, teraglin, samsonfish and blue eyed cod.

Like most in the commercial fishing fleet, Mr Espert was rocked this week by the release of the draft review, raising the possibility of more sanctuary zones, fishing licence buy-backs, and an end to prawn trawling off Coffs Harbour in two years time.

“Above all it’s the uncertainty of this week’s announcement that’s hurting local families, they don’t know what the future holds,” Coffs Fishermen Co-Op’s Shane Geary said.

“To be honest, I think politicians in Sydney don’t care about Freddy the fisherman from Sawtell, the lone voice, that’s why we have to fight this as an industry and as a community, and we’ll be showing them just how much produce caught off Coffs actually reaches the Sydney Fish Markets,” he said.

To back the future of commercial fishing here on the Coffs Coast, email Premier Kristina Keneally on premier@nsw.gov.au with your concerns along with John Harrison from the Professional Fishermen’s Association on jharrison@pfai.com.au



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