Lack of bites on net buy-back a bad sign for Coast fishing
THE State Government's voluntary commercial net licence buy-back scheme was doing nothing to relieve pressure on diminishing Sunshine Coast fish stocks, a recreational fishing advocate has claimed.
The latest round of the buy-back scheme resulted in only 13 licences with 42 symbols, which allow the use of various net types being purchased, taking the total to 35 and 113 symbols.
Lindsay Dines, a passionate recreational fisher, said the government's scheme did nothing to reduce the pressure beach net fishing had on the diminishing Sunshine Coast inshore fishery.
He said there was strong support for Queensland to follow NSW's lead and introduce recreational fishing licences, the fees from which could fund the targeted buy-back of commercial licences.
"We'd like to see the eradication of net fishing from key areas where fish spawn,'' Mr Dines said.
"We need to identify the species that need protection, identify their spawning grounds and take pressure off the stock. That's the scientific consensus.''
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said the second round of buy-back offers, which closed on March 28, attracted 74 submissions.
"The Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) has assessed the submissions and I have agreed to the buyback of 13 licences with 42 symbols," Mr McVeigh said.
A licence grants authority to fish. Symbols on the lic
ence define the fisheries in which the licence can be used and the type of fishing that is permitted.
"Our aim is to reduce the total net fishing effort along the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery, and we have applied stringent criteria to achieve this,'' Mr McVeigh said.
Mr Dines said the scheme was not working and would not achieve the 50% reduction the government had targeted for N1 and N2 licences.
He said the only people taking up the offer were those who were either retiring, under-performing or who had other licences they could use.
"Actual fishing pressure won't be reduced,'' Mr Dines said. "The stock is depleted right along the Queensland coastline and into the Gulf."
A Fisheries Queensland representative said ocean beach netters were not eligible to apply to the buy-back scheme because their licences were not part of the program.
Details of successful N1 and N2 licence applicants will not be available until all buy-back contracts are finalised by QRAA.
N1 or N2 endorsed licences allow holders to operate in all Queensland waters so where they are based is often not relevant to where they fish.king p
Mr Dines said that system was flawed. He said licences should be zoned to encourage holders to take better care of the resource.