Fishing industry is in a precarious position

Our new state government has two matters requiring urgent attention in regard to the very important fishing industry.

Firstly. Marine Park Sanctuary Areas have been an absolute disaster because the rules keep honest fishers out whereas the dishonest minority is thriving due to poor monitoring and compliance.

Furthermore the zoning took away too much important area (from the honest fishers) and as a consequence most sectors of the various fisheries are seeing their livelihoods put under duress.

The new government took a policy of converting some zones from Sanctuary Zones into Habitat Protection Zones to the election, which will cater for sustainable fishing. Hopefully this change can be made in the near future to ease the pressure on some of our fisheries.

Secondly, the marine scale fishery is being placed under stress through various factors including excessive Sanctuary Zones.

It certainly needs some form of restructuring and the removal of some of the ridiculous number of strictures and regulations.

The new government has inherited a proposal to restructure the fishery and has quite sensibly indicated that they will need to consult before acting.

The proposal in question involves the expenditure of millions of dollars for a license buy back scheme coupled with a catch quota for major species only (perhaps four species).

The buy-back will include an industry contribution of about $6 million.

This plan has not been discussed with general license holders and seems to be driven by Primary Industries and Regions SA Fisheries.

From contact with many fishers from most areas of the state, this plan is not at all likely to receive support from most fishers when it is eventually discussed with them.

From my extensive knowledge of this fishery I must say that the plan is foolish, will be immensely unpopular and simply will not work.

There are much better ways of restructuring a fishery without wasting millions of dollars and causing massive levels of pain and heartbreak for so many fishers.

We can only hope that the new government thinks carefully about the future of our fishing industry before acting.

 Allan Suter

Ceduna District Council mayor