Reforms and inquiry welcomed by a Great Lakes fisher

Letter to the Editor:

It is as true today as it was when first said… “A house divided against itself can not stand”. This is why we at Great Lakes Fisheries are building a new ‘house’ for the progressive fishermen of the region.

Our members are united in their view that the proposed fishing reforms are the way of the future. Their future prosperity and the prosperity of Great Lakes Fisheries will be built upon the principles of the fishing reforms as proposed by independent experts.

Such principles as putting a cap on how many fish/crabs fishermen are allowed to catch – quotas. 

Catching technology constantly evolves and improves. Fishermen now have faster and more efficient boats, the use of GPS and now the widespread adoption and use of the new ‘super trap’ - a trap that can catch up to four times as many crabs as the old square wire trap. Regulatory constraints must improve to protect the resource. 

This is why we at Great Lakes Fisheries will build our prosperity on what we are allowed to catch and not on what we would like to catch. 

Holding a licence to catch seafood for the community is a privilege, not a right. With that, comes a host of ethical responsibilities to the community to ensure that that seafood is only procured in an ethical and especially legal way. Allowing small crabs to grow into big ones by throwing the little ones back is a good place to start. 

The principles underpinning our success will be built upon the highest standards and not ‘turning a blind eye’ to these and other issues. Any wonder some 30 per cent of fishermen’s co-ops have closed their doors over the last 20 years. If that’s not going backwards, what is? 

The NSW fishing industry has divided itself into two groups – those who want a better industry where fishermen can invest and create a better seafood industry, secure jobs for seafood producers and higher quality seafood for consumers. Then, there is the other group, the ‘leave us alone’ brigade who are not prepared to change the way they operate under any circumstances. 

The industry must learn from the lessons of its own history and use that knowledge to guide the way forward. That way a more secure tomorrow will be forged for all. 

Phillip Byrnes, Managing Director, Great Lakes Fisheries P/L