Fishing ban would sink my business - commercial fisherman

Senotor Barry O'Sullivan and Senator Matt Canavan (at Glenmore Seafoods) speak with residents, inlcuding commercial fishermen Keith Harris (pictured right) about the State Government's proposed net free zones.
Senotor Barry O'Sullivan and Senator Matt Canavan (at Glenmore Seafoods) speak with residents, inlcuding commercial fishermen Keith Harris (pictured right) about the State Government's proposed net free zones. Lisa Benoit

THE world has changed a lot since Keith Harris started his small family-run commercial fishing business in 1993.

But he's facing the daunting prospect of having to find work in a new industry if the State Government's proposed bans on commercial net fishing go ahead.

Yesterday, he voiced his concerns to Queensland LNP Senators Matt Canavan and Barry O'Sullivan at a meeting at Glenmore Seafoods.

The proposed net-free zones take in three areas in Central Queensland - Corio Bay (inclusive of Keppel Islands), Fitzroy Delta and the Fitzroy River.

The proposal includes a $10million compensation package to buy back commercial fishing licences.

Mr Harris said the net-free zones would have "a severe financial impact on the income" of commercial fishermen and their families.

He said the uncertainty surrounding the future of his business had left him feeling "pretty sick in the stomach".

"I'm getting a bit too old to retrain and do something else," Mr Harris said. "I've been doing this for so long."

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Mr Canavan said the jobs and wealth created in regional Australia came from industries like commercial fishing.

"Something like one third of the wild barramundi that is caught on the east coast is caught right here in Rockhampton and in this region and I think we should be immensely proud of that fact," he said.

In a statement to The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton MP and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said he knew there was "overwhelming support" in the electorate for the proposal.

"The Senators should speak to Jason Costigan, the Member for Whitsunday, who wrote a submission to the Fisheries Review (MRAG) to register his support for a net-free zone," Mr Byrne said.

"He said a net-free zone should be embraced for the overall benefit of our region and there are plenty who agree with him.

"In three years of government the LNP bought back 74 commercial fishing licences at a cost to Queensland taxpayers of $9million."

Topics:  ban business fishing rockhampton

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