Fishermen call for fairer deal

BUNDABERG commercial fishermen fear their industry is sinking fast and have called for an overhaul of controversial Great Barrier Reef green zone restrictions.

Contractors were banned from fishing about one third of the 344,400sq km marine park in 2005, with the federal government upping the area of “no-take” green zones and “no-entry” pink zones.

Owner-operator Seth Parker said “fishos” had been left reeling by the move and were struggling to remain viable with increases in fuel prices and licence costs.

“The numbers of boats operating has dropped from about 78 to 16,” he said.

“All that’s left in the industry is the owner-operators and the skipper-owners.”

Skipper-owner and Queensland Seafood Industry Association line-delegate Steven Campbell said the increase in green zones had hit the back pocket of fishermen hard and was, ultimately, misguided.

“What we are seeing is a much higher concentration of vessels in waters out of the green zones, which is putting much more pressure on fish stocks in these areas,” he said.

Mr Campbell has demanded an overhaul of the restrictions, calling for a rotation of green zones, allowing them to be periodically fished.

“This would give a rest to the areas that are heavily fished because of the green zones and would not have a significant impact on restricted areas,” he said.

He also believed commercial fishermen should be allowed to fish pelagic, migratory fish species such as Spanish mackerel in the green zone areas.

“Fishing these species has no impact on the bio-region. We don’t have to anchor and we’re taking fish that are just moving through,” he said.

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