NORTH Coast fishers say imported muck will be the only seafood on the menu once statewide commercial fishing reforms reduce the state’s already pathetic domestic fish intake.
Wild Caught Fishers Coalition released a statement saying less than 1000 active fishers remain in New South Wales, with that number threatening to take a sharp dive.
Already 85% of seafood eaten in NSW is imported.
With the NSW Government holding a “preview” share trading period after failing to tell fishers how to buy back their jobs and what it would cost, the industry is starting to talk of mutiny.
“Mentally the majority of commercial fishers and their families are now demoralised,” the WCFC statement said.
“Now they are asked to participate in a mock auction as government tries to learn how fishers will vie to regain their present stolen history.
“Academics teaching fisheries economics indicate this would create a revolt in other countries.”
Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-operative general manager Danielle Adams rejected the government’s claim the reforms would boost domestically caught seafood consumption.
“I cannot comprehend the calculation where fewer fishers equals the same number or more fish,” she said.
“They still have to work under the same weather extremities, the same tidal situations, and they physically can only catch so much themselves.
“I just can’t see how removing some of the fishers from the industry is going to mean seafood produce isn’t going to decrease.
“I asked the Minister (for Primary Industries Niall Blair) if he could show me his numbers to convince me this won’t be the case, but I’m still waiting for a response.
“I said I would be his biggest supporter if I knew where he was coming from.”
Ms Adams estimated the co-op was looking down the barrel of a 30% reduction to its fishing fleet, but stressed no one really knew what the future held.
The co-op’s purchase of a Maclean fish shop last week was another way to ensure the local industry kept its doors open, she said.
“That will help us guarantee our income generation,” she said.
“We see it as a positive for the business, just so we can look at alternatives to make sure we keep trading for the fishers we have left.
“We are trying to work out a strategy so everyone can survive this, but we shouldn’t really have to.
“This reform process has been happening for more than six years and we’re still not quite sure what the outcomes will be.”