Planning court knocks fishers out of case against GPC

A COMPENSATION case brought against the Gladstone Ports Corporation by fishers affected by a massive dredging project has been struck out in the Queensland Planning and Environment court.

The case was the second led by fisherman Trevor Falzon against the port, claiming costs associated with lost fishing grounds and access due to the huge Western Basin dredging project.

While it was filed by numerous other fishers and crabbers who worked in the Gladstone Harbour, none were willing to appear in court, documents show.

Mr Falzon had applied to the court for compensation under the State Government's approval of the dredging project, but failed to specifically quantify his personal "losses" from the project.

The State Government's approval of the project had demanded compensation be paid to fishermen affected by lost fishing grounds, but only those "significantly adversely affected".

On those grounds, the ports corporation argued that Mr Falzon's claim should be struck out, as it had not specifically substantiated his personal losses, or whether they were significant.

Judge David Andrew SC late last week struck Mr Falzon's application for further compensation, with documents showing Mr Falzon's legal team did not define his "losses", rather than "costs".

Documents filed with the court showed Mr Falzon had suffered more than $400,000 in "costs", including buying longer nets and equipment to trawl deeper waters.

But the court ruled that Mr Falzon had suffered "costs" and not "losses", and hence, that any such costs could be reimbursed by better catches, confirming the argument put by the port's legal team.

Mr Falzon's lawyers further failed to establish "on material facts" claims he or those attached to the court action were "significantly adversely affected" by the dredging project.

It was the second time a case brought by the fishing industry over compensation for lost fishing grounds has failed, after a previous case failed on a technicality.

A port spokeswoman would not provide any details on the status of the rest of the compensation program, but said the court had made a decision and the "legal process has been followed".

Mr Falzon did not return calls regarding the case, or if he would appeal the decision, on Tuesday.

The court is yet to schedule a hearing date for the awarding of costs associated with the case.

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