12 October 2023

EXCLUSIVE: State government proposes mass closures of Gulf of Carpentaria to commercial fishing

| Matt Nicholls
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Sian Breen from Fisheries Queensland goes through the proposed closures with commercial fishers in Karumba.

THE Queensland government is proposing to close 20 per cent of the viable net fishery in the Gulf of Carpentaria – a decision that could threaten the livelihood of dozens of businesses.

In a meeting with the region’s fishing body in Karumba on Thursday, Fisheries Queensland staff informed the industry of the proposed closures.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner did not show up to the meeting, which was attended by local MP, Member for Traeger Robbie Katter.

Cape York Weekly was the only media outlet in attendance and watched as frustrated commercial fishermen pleaded with the government representatives to keep their industry alive.

At one point, police had to intervene after one fishing operator became agitated and threatened another attendee with violence.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries says no final decision has been made, although it has released a discussion paper outlining four proposed gillnet-free areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

DAF says the proposed gillnet-free zones are designed to provide increased protection for various species of conservation interest, including sawfish, flatback turtles and speartooth shark.

READ ALSO Weipa fisherman worried about future of industry

However, the department couldn’t provide evidence of the commercial fishing industry’s impact on those species.

In a statement, Mr Furner said: “We want Gulf fishers and community members to have their say and help to shape a future that includes a sustainable commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“No decisions have been made yet, and this consultation process will be critical in establishing that sustainable future.

“I am grateful to all of the fishers, supply chain business owners and community members who have reached out to me.

“I urge them now to take part in this process and be a part of the sustainable future that we all want to see.”

More can be read here: https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/gulf-of-carpentaria-fishery

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