Petition urges MPs not to support the proposed net fishing bans
Petition urges MPs not to support the proposed net fishing bans Alistair Brightman

5000 sign petitions against net-free zones off Qld coast

MORE than 5000 people have signed petitions calling on parliament to block legislation to implement three net-free zones off Cairns, Mackay and the Capricorn Coast.

They suggest the move will affect regional employment and access to fresh, local seafood.

The LNP's Burnett MP Stephen Bennett, whose electorate covers a section between Rockhampton and Gladstone, tabled one petition with 4350 signatures against the net-free fishing zones.

Labor has allocated $10 million in this week's State Budget to buy back commercial fishing licences and help operators facing direct impacts from the changes at Trinity Bay, St Helens Beach, Yeppoon/Keppel Bay and the Fitzroy River.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said this week his government's sustainable fishing plan would provide opportunities for new jobs to be created to support recreational fishing tourism.

But the paper petition urged MPs not to support the proposed net fishing bans.

"Queenslanders wish to retain their right to buy fresh local caught seafood and oppose any fishing closures. 75% of Queenslanders cannot or do not fish and rely on net fisheries to access fresh local fish," the petition read.

The clerk of parliament also tabled a petition with 704 signatures from Queensland Seafood Industry Association president Karen Collard opposing net-free fishing areas and asking the house to block the legislation.

"... all citizens of Queensland deserve access to fresh, wild caught Queensland seafood," it read.

"The State Government's policy aims to establish three net-free fishing zones in north and central Queensland which will restrict commercial fishing activities.

"Reduced access to fishing areas will lead to the demise of family owned commercial fishing businesses.

"This will have major negative flow-on effects to supply chain businesses, regional employment and therefore significantly impact delicate local economies.

"The commercial fishing sector needs to be recognised and acknowledged as an essential primary food producer that is a significant contributor to the economy."