Snagged: Report paints grim outlook for commercial fishing industry

The economic contribution of Queensland’s commercial fishing industry is declining and those in the industry are frustrated by the management of the sector, saying it is making it more difficult to run their business.

Feb 10, 2021, updated Feb 10, 2021

A two-year study into the state of the industry found that it contributed more than $431 million to the state’s economy and was responsible for nearly 4000 jobs during the 2018-19 year.

However, this represented a decline on the previous year, when it brought in more than $453 million of economic value and generated nearly 4300 jobs.

The Government’s management agency Fisheries Queensland engaged BDO EconSearch to collect data about Queensland’s fisheries from commercial fishers and charter operators.

The study found that almost all respondents to a special industry survey believed commercial fishing was financially risky. Most felt insecure in their job and unable to cope with changing regulations.

“Around half of respondents feel they understand fishery management arrangements but most feel strongly that management is making it more difficult to run their business and that it is has become more difficult to ‘have a say’ in management,” a report on the study findings states.

“Overall, fishers indicated that they are satisfied with the lifestyle of being a commercial fisher and would not quickly change jobs. They also indicated that they are generally satisfied with life as a whole.”

However, the study found that most found the industry stressful and physically demanding, would not encourage young people to choose a fishing career and did not feel positive about the future of fishing in their region.

When he announced the study in 2019, Agriculture and Fisheries minister Mark Furner said it would allow the Government to understand how the commercial fishing industry contribute to the economy.

“This study is part of the Queensland Government’s strategy to help build a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren,” he said at the time.

The Government is currently working on future harvest strategies as part of its wider sustainable fisheries strategy.

Last year, Fisheries Queensland also introduced what it termed “red tape reduction and streamlining measures” to help the economic recovery of the commercial fishing industry.

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However, industry body the Queensland Seafood Industry Association has been critical of the Government’s handling of the sector, accusing it of introducing “draconian reforms” without proper consultation and “botching” the harvest strategy.

The QSIA has consistently argued that the Government’s approach to the industry will ensure the community would continue to see more imported seafood and less local Queensland seafood.

Association chair Allan Bobberman said the industry was caught between the agendas of a “green” bureaucracy and radical elements of the recreational fishing lobby.






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