MEDIA RELEASE - Central Coast Fishers in Chaos under Liberal-National Government


The NSW Labor Opposition has slammed the Liberal-National Government’s recent announcements on commercial fishing as a slap in the face for the industry. Labor Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Jenny Aitchison has today visited the Central Coast with Labor MP's Liesl Tesch and David Mehan to highlight just how out of touch the Government is with the day-to-day challenges of commercial fishers. In the meeting with commercial fishers, it emerged that they and many of their industry colleagues are struggling to stay afloat. Ms Aitchison said first announcement that the Government would waive the second instalment of commercial fishing management fees came far too late. "It came nearly a week after the payment deadline and a month after the Labor Opposition called for the waiver, without any provision for refunds to provide cashflow assistance for those who had paid," Ms Aitchison said. The second announcement was for a review process to seek feedback on commercial fishing regulations with a view to imposing more changes on the sector, under the guise of removing redundant and inefficient regulations. Commercial fishers continue to be severely impacted by the NSW Government’s disastrous Business Adjustment Program (BAP) reforms that were implemented in May 2016. The long promised review of the socio-economic impacts of the BAP (the Barclay Review) which was due in December last year has still not been released. Ms Aitchison said the devastating stories of the fishers on the coast, align with those she hears on almost a daily basis showing just how the Government’s reforms have gutted the commercial fishing industry. “The Liberals and Nationals are simply out of touch with commercial fishers. We all want to see a reduction in red tape for commercial fishers, but the Government must release the Barclay Review first," Ms Aitchison said. “The Government must be transparent with the commercial fishing industry, and the socio-economic impacts of their disastrous reforms must be addressed before they embark on yet another round of change. “There is a complete lack of trust in the Government from commercial fishers. They feel that the Government doesn’t care about reducing the number of commercial fishing regulations, they just want to see a reduction in the number of commercial fishers. “It’s now been nearly four years after the start of the BAP, and just last week the Government confirmed that commercial fishers across the industry may still potentially lose more of their catch quota after the long delayed share appeal hearings are concluded.” Ms Tesch said the Liberal National Government has forced small business owners out of the industry. “This is a multigenerational Industry, and many of these people have fished for their whole lives, telling me that’s all they know how to do," Ms Tesch said. “Fishers on the Central Coast were forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and buy their jobs back. “Since the reforms were introduced in 2016, the 75 registered commercial fishing businesses on the Central Coast, have reduces to only 64.” Mr Mehan said the botched roll-out of the commercial fishing reforms had destroyed local fishing businesses. “Many local family run businesses have gone to the wall, with impacts flowing onto other industries up and down the coast," Mr Mehan said. Ms Aitchison questioned how commercial fishers could have any trust in the Nationals Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall. “The Minister has no idea of the challenges being faced by commercial fishers. The Minister’s Commercial Fishing Advisory Council didn’t even meet for nearly a year after he was appointed to the role. He has plunged the sector into yet another round of reforms, he was late in providing any financial assistance to the sector, and he has refused to release the Barclay report.” “This Minister knows nothing about how the commercial fishing industry works, and he just doesn’t care.”

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