Shane Geary, John Harrison and Russell Kerr discuss the possible impact of the review on the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-op.
Shane Geary, John Harrison and Russell Kerr discuss the possible impact of the review on the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-op.

Pro fishers could know fate today

AROUND 100 local families who depend on the seafood industry for their livelihoods expect to find out today where proposed new sanctuary zones could be introduced inside the Solitary Island Marine Park.

The State Government’s review plan is to phase out prawn trawlers in the marine park within two years which would decimate the industry.

Today’s sitdown with the Marine Park Authority in Coffs Harbour is expected to outline the limitations which could be imposed on line and trap fishermen.

“It is fair to say that this whole draft review of the Solitary Island Marine Park could be the beginning of the end for commercial fishing in Coffs Harbour,” John Harrison of the Professional Fishermen’s Association said.

“We should find out where the lines are drawn on the map and we’ll assess the impact before the industry takes action,” he said.

The draft review, which could also impact on recreational fishermen, proposes increasing sanctuary zones off Coffs Harbour from 12 to 20 per cent.

If this were to happen, commercial kingfish, snapper and lobster anglers could be forced out of areas they currently fish.

King prawn trawlers meanwhile, are expecting the government may buy back their fishing licences by 2012 under the review.

Mr Harrison claims fishing co-operatives in Coffs Harbour and along the Clarence River are under threat.

“Where will people be able to buy local fresh seafood with continual access reduction?” he said. “One fish retailer is saying to me if the planned cuts for commercial fishing access in the SIMP are allowed they will be forced to buy reef fish from the black market – so who wins here? This proposal is nothing short of ludicrous and unless some common sense prevails we could very well see the demise of the commercial fishing industry in Coffs Harbour area.”

The Government is yet to reveal when the draft review policy will be open to submissions.



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