Lawyer seeing ‘death by 1000 cuts’ for commercial anglers

COMMERCIAL anglers who never fished the areas that are now net-free zones may be among the worst impacted by their introduction.

The zones came into effect on November 1 last year and, since then, Hervey Bay's Law Essentials fisheries lawyer Chris Thompson said he's been contacted by about 30 commercial fishermen enquiring about their rights.

He said in Mackay many commercial anglers were concerned by the displacement of effort.

With commercial fishing effort now confined to a smaller area, Mr Thompson said many were struggling to maintain their income.

"Government claimed they had brought out enough licences to stop that effort creep," he said.

"The reality is there will always be effort creep in the remaining areas. I've had numerous calls from fishermen saying 'I can't maintain income, is there anything I can do? The fact is the amount of compensation doesn't go far enough to give them any dignity."

He described the scenario as "death by 1000 cuts" for commercial fishers.

But he said he wasn't in the debate of whether or not the net-free zones should have been introduced, rather, he believed more should have been done to sort out these issues with displaced effort and fair compensation.

However, earlier this week Infofish Australia released survey data comparing fish stocks pre and post the net-free zones. Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance Lance Murray said results showed they were well on the way to "replenishing our stock to a state of abundance".

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