State backflips on sustainable fishing policy

THE Labor government has backflipped on its sustainable fishing policy, now saying it won't be implemented without consultation.

And there are suggestions a new policy will be trialed in Gladstone.

It has been almost three months since the policy was announced in the lead-up to the election.

HOW THE STORY UNFOLDED:

>> New net-free zone stuns commercial fishermen

>> Commercial fishers say they weren't consulted

>> Read Labor's initial planning for fishing here

Major stakeholders were not notified or involved in the decision at the time, and commercial fishermen have been contacting this newspaper since the story first broke.

Should it come to consultation the majority of commercial fisherman would like to see the policy taken off the table.

Deputy chair of the Queensland Seafood Industry Association Kevin Reibel will meet with independent MP Peter Wellington today to discuss the issue.

Mr Reibel said Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne's office had assured the peak body for the Queensland commercial fishing industry that "he would talk to all interested parties in due course".

But is yet to set a date for a meeting.

"The Government will implement the policy in a methodical and consultative way and this will include consultation with commercial fishers and the seafood industry prior to the zones being established," Mr Byrne said in the only statement released to the media.

Townsville-based fisherman Mario Fazio said despite the minister's promise of consultation, so far he has refused to take any calls from commercial fisherman.

"We are the ones with the most to lose and they won't even talk to us," Mr Fazio said.

"This will be the end for me.

"I have no more income, I have just spent $200,000 building a boat that's three-quarters of the way finished.

"What am I supposed to do? How am I going to pay my boat off?"

According to Mr Fazio's contacts in Brisbane, the policy will be trialed in Gladstone first before being rolled out.

This was not confirmed or denied by Mr Byrne's office, which won't comment any further on the issue.


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