Shoalwater Bay expansion to have ripple impact on fishing
A PROPOSAL to expand the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area will not just impact farmers and small businesses in the Marlborough region.
A large scale commercial fishing operation which employs seven people full time is at risk.
Clint Waldon, whose family own and run the commercial fishing operation at Bald Hills station, spoke at the public meeting in Marlborough on Monday afternoon in relation to the impact of the proposed expansion on the community and the commercial fishing business.
"Our commercial fishing operation is one of the largest operations on the inshore Queensland coast and provides the only source of income for several people," he said.
"We operate six mud crab and three inshore net licenses 12 months per year.
Mr Waldon said over the past several years, his family had built the business, homes and future around their fishing operation here.
"If this military 'invasion' or expansion.... whatever you like to call it.... goes ahead, my family, employees and other businesses like ours will be devastated," he said.
"Not only will we lose our homes, we will lose our only source of income and our access to our fishery.
"The ripple effect from this military expansion will leave us with no income. It will take away our access to or fishery."
Mr Waldon said the proposed expansion would see the company losing access to their licence fishing area, if not permanently, at least 18 weeks per year, which would be impossible to survive on.
"We would be forced to relocate to nearby Stanage Bay or St Lawrence," he said.
Mr Waldon said this relocation would cost about $1.2 million and have a domino impact on the fishing operations in those areas.
"Besides the cost of relocating, it would be at least double the amount of fishing pressure in those areas, rendering the fishery unsustainable or at best, totally unprofitable," he said.
"It would reduce every other existing fishers income in those areas significantly."
Mr Waldon said his family's story was one of many in the area and hoped the politicians and people behind the proposed expansion stop and think of the impacts it will have on the community.