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"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"
Article 19 UN Declaration of Human Rights to which Australia is a signatory

Queensland Commercial Fishing Industry under threat from Agenda 21 dictate

Below is a copy of the letter sent by Vicky Baker of Queensland Fishing Brokerage to Mark Robinson LNP which hilights the way in which the government at all levels is moving against the Queensland Commercial Fishing Industry.

See the e-petition to save our Australian Commercial Fishing industry and support the Australian wild-caught product.

Monday 19th September 2011

Dear Lisa and Mark,

I attended the meeting at Toorbul, hosted by the Toorbul Re-stocking Association. These are a few things I would like to say regarding some of the comments made. (I am sorry for the length)

Firstly, the perception that commercial and recreational fishers should be in competition regarding allocation of a food resource astounds me. They both have their place in our society. One is a hobby done for recreation and enjoyment and the other produces a valuable, health improving food for the people who cannot catch it for themselves or their family. The real threat to marine stocks are coastal developments of foreshores and wetlands and the pollution, chemical runoff and destruction of nursery and habitat areas, which, if addressed would ensure our seafood stocks for the future for everybody. Australia has the fourth largest marine area in the world and Commercially produces less seafood than Japan or New Zealand. Queensland (Cape York to New South Wales border) had approximately 800 trawlers in the late 1990’s, now there is around 230 (don’t confuse the number of licences with the number of working vessels) and the crab, net and line fishery has a similar story. As far as a food resource goes this indicates that it is seriously underutilized and Australians are missing out on the right to eat their very own food resource.

Secondly, if the fishing numbers have quadrupled and the catches doubled since the Commercially fishing families were banned in Pumicestone Passage why is there any need for restocking? If the waters could support the increase in fish, wouldn’t they already be there, and is the poor water quality of the creeks feeding Pumicestone Passage the blame?

Thirdly, the comment that there are 380 QLD Commercial barramundi licences in the Gulf is incorrect, there are 87, and not all of them would be working at any one time.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, which is promoted as the truth, and research is needed to be done so as to be able to make opinions /decisions/comments on facts, not fictions.

Fourthly, the comment that the increase in the flathead size from 70 to 75cm was done for the Commercial Fishers benefit is a laugh. It has been a long time since something was changed to actually benefit a Commercial Fisher. For the last 10 years or so all the new laws have actually harmed (“death by a thousand cuts”) the Commercial Fishery and fishing families to the point of devaluing our fishing businesses (therefore wiping out our superannuation), turning it into a socially unacceptable way of producing a food source (for the sake of the green vote) and making it unviable to fish financially (locking up of prime resource areas in marine parks etc) to the point of re-possession of vessels and homes, health problems, marriage break-ups and suicide.

I would like to ask you both – how many Commercially Fishing families do you represent in your electorates? Are people who cannot catch seafood for themselves to be denied their own country’s seafood and be force to eat foreign seafood (often caught, produced and processed in ways that are unacceptable in Australia - added chemicals, poor wages, poor working conditions, no fisheries management at all)?

Below is a copy of part of an email sent to my husband yesterday, which highlights the plight our Commercially Fishing Families and their communities are in. (I have partly edited for privacy for the sender).

Hi Kev and Vicki,

After our get together last Wed. night the issues we discussed have really been playing on my mind.

I feel embarassed and saddened to have to be specific in detail but by not doing so reduces the true impact or reality of what is happening to us while government fails to fix the core issues and bandaids its approach.( your sensitivity to the detail as usual is appreciated)
Facts closer to home - one reputable Townsville operator is five boat payments in arrears. He is distraught.
                               -another operator has a smaller vessel, is more of a lifestyle fisher, but has recently had a complete meltdown pondering where to next.
                               -There has been two separate complete family breakdowns, very messy , 4 boats involved , depression, hospitalisation, police, estranged wives and children, domestic violence orders, bank foreclosures and worse.
                               -To highlight how bad it is, another 2 boat family when asked when the boats are due home the response was when the fuel bill could be paid.
                               -I phoned a close friend I had not heard from a couple of days ago. His story was sad. He has been inside as he put it, getting over depression and anger issues.

These are some of the tragic stories in my back yard. Many more remain behind closed doors, untold.

Imagine the rest of the coast. Recent history down your way Kevin is full of similar problems.

Last QSIA AGM in Townsville Sylvia Shawe spoke of these very issues. We all shed a tear and walked out the door.

Qld.Fisheries held a Industry Crisis Meeting, gave us an Industry Development Plan and produced a computer management tool to help us be more profitable.

Every one of these has gone nowhere and simply lost traction.

The Trawl Management Review is going nowhere fast with seriuos misgivings, and as changes are introduced industry will be at its most vulnerable. Especially with proposed buybacks.

This week one fisher in Townsville was offered $21.90 /kg for 10/20 ckd RSK, Loundy offered $19.50. There are none to be caught. The retail price has not gone up that much respectfully, so  why could we not have been paid a fairer price 3 months ago. A couple of dollars 2 months ago could have reduced the industries pain.

It is too late as we have been pushed past the point of return - greedy people with unrealistic profit margins.

The examples above are testament to our suffering.

We need to ask ourselves what is the price of our family unit and how can we preserve it.

Where to from here I don't know. What I do know is Government has been derelict of its duties and has a duty of care to prevent the collapsing of our families and fishing communities.

Any advice on what I can do ?


Vicky Baker
(07) 54988179


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