Appeal grows for fisher reforms rethink

Kevin Jones has made it his mission to gather as much support as possible for a petition requesting the government pause and rethink its fishing reforms.
Nanjing Night Net

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Approximately 7000 signatures have added their weightto a local petition requestingthe State governmentpause in its controversial fishing industry reforms, but organisers saymore are needed.

With a minimum number of 10,000 signatures required before a petition can be tabled in parliament, local resident Kevin Jones has been doing the rounds spreading the word and gathering support.

“Kevin has brought in around 2000 signatures so far,” said an impressed Suzie McEnallay, the operations manager for Wallis Lake Fishermen’s Cooperative.

The proposed state-widefishing reforms have caused an uproar both up and down the coast due to what many believe will be unsustainable quotaspurchased at unsustainable prices.

“I reckon it’s got to be the biggest story in the area, and it’sgetting to the crunch time,” a concerned Mr Jones said, referring to his quest as a community service ‘to get it out there’.

“It’sgoing to affect a lot of lives,” he said.

“So I said to Suzie,I’ll help you do something aboutit.”

Wallis Lake reportedly provides the biggest blue swimmer crab proportion across NSW –80 per cent of the catch.

“But what they’re doing is adding up the numbers of what’s caught and allocating them toareas which don’t even catch any,” he said, referring to new quotas on catch.

His biggest concern is that in borrowing money to buy shares and quotas,“they then won’tbe able to service the loan.”

The petition itself has been written by the Wild Caught Fisher’s Coalition, which claims“fishersrights have been stolen, their viabilityand sustainability threatened.”

Backing that up isa review by the local co-op’sMs McEnallay, whichfound that the reforms would render the local fishing industryand subsequently the co-op, unviable.

She said last week’strial run of the system revealed so many flaws she and the fishers had lost any faith in the system.

Designed by the Department of Primary Industry to calm fears surrounding the reforms, the trial encouragingNSW’sfishersto buy and sell shares finished on Monday.

“A lot of people thought it crashed,” she said, referring to anomalies in computer and phone systemsaccessing the site.She also referred to unfair caps on shares required for sustainable quotas.

A spokesperson for the DPI said results from the trial exchangeare expected shortly, but the level of engagement was “encouraging”.

“The level of industry engagement in the Preview Share Trading Market was encouraging and demonstrated fishers were interested in learning more about how to use the system ahead of the Subsidised Share Trading Market early next year,” the spokesperson said.

In the meantimeKevin said the petition is available to sign at all clubs and pubs in the area.

“There are still a lot of people who are not aware of what the facts and figures are… but it’sso ridiculous it’s not funny.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.