Fishers beaming over new Queensland trial

BUNDABERG'S commercial beam trawl fishers hard hit by flood damage to the Burnett River will now be able to access additional fishing areas as part of a new government trial.

The State Government yesterday approved a trial opening of an additional beam trawl fishing area in the General Use Zone of the Great Sandy Marine Park between the northern bank of the Burnett River and northern boundary of Rules Beach.

The move is welcomed by commercial fishers.

But Queensland Greens spokeswoman Jenny Stirling said while she understood there had been tremendous pressure on the livelihoods of professional fisherman affected by the January floods, she was concerned that the opening of National Parks had become part of the recovery strategy.

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"National Parks are created to preserve certain environmental values but they are also spawning grounds for prawns and other fish," she said.

"Is this the thin edge of the wedge to opening up more national parks?"

Queensland Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said flooding in the Burnett River earlier this year meant fishers could no longer fish there effectively.

"Changes to the riverbed and general flood debris continue to impede commercial fishers accessing the area," Mr McVeigh said.

"Beam trawl fishing and all other netting will remain prohibited in the town reach of the river (from the junction with Bundaberg Creek upstream to the western tip of Harriett Island), to allow for resource sharing with recreational fishing," he said

Retired Bundaberg fisherman John Olsen said after a decade-long battle against the previous state government this would be a relief to the local fishing industry.

"It is a heartfelt move by the government and fishers will now have somewhere to go fishing," he said.

Commercial fisherman Paul Grunske agreed and said the industry had been over-regulated.

"It's high time they looked at relaxing a string of things that would enhance the fishing industry and not cripple it," he said.