Ahead of a Parliamentary debate today on a petition lodged on behalf of more than 10,000 citizens in support of commercial fishers, the NSW Labor Opposition has slammed the Berejiklian Government for leaving the commercial fishing interests unrepresented for months on end.
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Jenny Aitchison MP raised serious concerns at last year’s NSW budget estimates hearings regarding the lack of representation for the industry. However, Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Adam Marshall MP is still dragging his feet and has failed to appoint members to fill the vacant positions.
“The Commercial Fishing Advisory council is listed on the Department of Primary Industries website as having 13 positions and a chairperson. Of those 13 positions, 7 of them are still listed as vacant,” Ms Aitchison said.
“Nothing has changed in nearly six months. The website also lists all of the CommFish NSW meetings, showing the last one was held back on 6 March 2019, nearly a year ago.”
The Commercial Fishing Advisory Board was established to provide commercial fishing stakeholders greater representation and to provide independent advice to the Minister for Primary Industries on strategic and policy issues relating to the commercial fishing industry in NSW.
“I’m really concerned that the Minister doesn’t appear to have received any advice from commercial fishing stakeholders since he was appointed to the Ministry, and that Commercial Fishers have essentially now been unrepresented to Government since just before the last election, nearly a year ago.”
The commercial fishing industry has been through major reforms over the past few years. We have lost nearly a third of commercial fishers from the industry, they have been severely impacted by three years of ongoing drought, seven months of bushfires and now Coronavirus is impacting on their international markets.
“How can the Minister make informed decisions about the industry to help them through his government’s flawed reform processes, natural disasters and market collapses?”
“The Minister must immediately fill the vacant positions and meet with Commfish NSW as a matter of urgency.”