THE chair of the Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fishers Association says he’s expecting a bigger than usual turnout for this year’s AGM, to be held in Karumba on Thursday.
“There are a lot of angry business owners,” said David Wren, who is also the co-owner of Wren Fishing, a major supplier of grey mackerel.
“And it’s not just the fishermen who are angry. If our industry dies it will hurt Karumba and a lot of other businesses, too.”
Mr Wren said he was convinced that the Queensland government would introduce more net-free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria, but he was hoping that a united front at the AGM could convince officials to limit the damage.
“The latest rumour we’ve heard is that there are scaled-back closures compared to the map that was first issued last month, but no one has seen a copy,” he said.
“It’s gone to the Future Fishing Taskforce for approval but we don’t know who is even on that panel, except for the chair, who is John Tanzer.
“A lot of it has been kept a secret.”
The Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fishers Association usually gets about 40 or 50 people to its annual general meetings, however Mr Wren expected that number to double for Thursday’s gathering.
“A lot of people are fired up and you can understand why,” he said.
Local MP Robbie Katter said he was trying to arrange to fly to Karumba for the AGM.
He said that Fisheries Minister Mark Furner should also attend.
“If you are going to make a decision that could shut down half a town then you owe it to people who will be impacted to explain why,” Mr Katter said.
“What’s disappointing is that there is no science behind this move to close huge parts of the Gulf to the commercial fishing industry.
“The Palaszczuk government appears to be led by UNESCO and the WWF.”
Queensland Fisheries will be at the AGM, represented by Sian Breen and Luke Albury, according to Mr Wren.
“Last year we were arguing about quota in the Gulf and this year we’re arguing if we can even stay in the fishery,” he said.
“We’re all frustrated about trying to keep our livelihoods.”