FISH FUTURE: Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and husband Wayne love to fish after growing up amongst it.
FISH FUTURE: Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and husband Wayne love to fish after growing up amongst it. Contributed

Keppel MP says net-free zones a positive for fishing tourism

FISHING is a big part of Brittany Lauga's family history.

It was stories from her childhood, growing up fishing with her grandmother and later her father-in-law, that the Member for Keppel spoke about in Parliament last Wednesday before the motion to disallow the proposed net-free zones in Queensland was lost.

"This policy will increase fish stocks for recreational anglers and it offers a clear and fair exit strategy for licence holders," Mrs Lauga said.

"The Fitzroy River has the capacity to be the largest wild barramundi fishery in the world and I look forward to encouraging visitors from around the world to experience the thrill of having a barra on the end of their line.

"The prospect of the largest wild barramundi fishery on the doorstep of Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast, not to mention on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, is a vision I and many, many others in my electorate, look forward to becoming reality.

"Only net fishing is prevented in the new net-free zones. Crabbing, line fishing and trawling is still allowed.

"This means there will be no impact on the local supply of prawns, crabs, reef fish and many pelagic fish at our local fish markets, restaurants, clubs, pubs and fish and chip shops.

"Fishing tourism has an exciting future ahead in Central Queensland from November 1, 2015."

Mrs Lauga added the Government had set aside $10 million to help commercial net fishers adjust to the introduction of the three zones.

"We will be using some of that money to buyback licences from fishers who want to transition out of the industry," she said.

WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society said Queensland's threatened marine wildlife were also big winners.

"WWF congratulates the Queensland Government for delivering the net-free zones which effectively create refuge areas that protect dugongs, snubfin dolphins and turtles from drowning in nets," WWF-Australia spokesman Jim Higgs said.

"It also fulfils an important commitment in the Reef 2050 Plan which the World Heritage Committee wants to see implemented in full."

However Keith Harris, Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) deputy president, said net-free zones did nothing but give recreational fishers access to net caught species and prevent local commercial fishers from making a living.

"Commercial fishers in Queensland and across Australia need to pay attention to and be very afraid of the precedent set," Mr Harris said.



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