How do you take $30,000 in revenue out of a small business with the stroke of a pen?

New Minister for Agriculture the Hon Adam Marshall MP is poised to do just that if he pushes ahead with the latest stage of the disastrous commercial fishing reforms instigated by his predecessor, retiring Upper House MLC, Niall Blair. The implementation of the delayed quotas will do just that, according to NSW Labor.

Wauchope fishers Matt and Karen Millward invested $150,000 when they purchased an existing commercial fishing business in 2017. They have been going well, stocking their popular fish and chip shop in Wauchope as well as the Sydney Fish Markets and other high quality restaurants across the state as.

Last year they caught 2.5 tonnes of bass gropers in 8 months. This catch was worth some $30,000 in revenue to their business, covering wages, fuel and boat repairs. Their income from this single class of fish was a big financial boon to the small town they live in.

The Liberals and Nationals Government are proposing to limit the catch of bass groper to 5 tonnes across the whole state by May 2019. There has been no environmental impact study, and there is no indication that the bass groper is under threat.

Last week Matt and Karen Millward caught 200 kilograms of bass groper. Next month, the Millwards will be limited to catching just 14kg of Bass Gropers per year. An average bass groper is just 20-25kg. According to the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s own website, the fish can grow up to a maximum of 100kg.

The Millwards have had to reduce their staffing, and are at risk of losing the value of their $150,000 investment in their small business.

They are devastated that the reforms will mean they are unable to stock their seafood shop from their trawler, potentially ruining their entire business model.

The Milwards are just one family of commercial fishers feeling the pinch from the government’s disastrous commercial fishing reforms across NSW.

With questions already being raised about the Minister’s knowledge of his brief, particularly the disastrous impacts of these reforms, Labor has renewed its calls for an independent inquiry into the reforms, and an urgent halt to the implementation of the quotas.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries the Hon Mick Veitch said “Since the Government’s disastrous reforms began in 2015, commercial fishers have consistently complained of being treated with contempt by this Government and having crucial information withheld from them.

“Labor is calling for an independent Inquiry conducted arms length from government. We are also calling for a halt on the implementation of the quotas at least until the independent inquiry has tabled its report to parliament” said Mr Veitch.

Shadow Minister for Small Business, Jenny Aitchison MP said, “Under this Government, we have seen commercial fishers of up to five generations lose their small businesses.

“It’s a simple equation – you shouldn’t have to pay more to do less of what you have been doing for generations in your small family business. That is Minister Blair’s legacy, and I call on the new Minister to stand up to the Department, call for an independent inquiry and halt the implementation of these disastrous quotas.”

Media contact: Mick Veitch 0419 009 505 and Jenny Aitchison 0418 456 405

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