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Clarence Commercial Fishermen Unite to Reject new Reforms

Commercial fishermen met on Saturday at the Maclean Showground to discuss the draft recommendations relating to their fisheries. Pic: Lynne Mowbray
  Clarence based commercial fishers met on Saturday at the Jim Thompson pavilion at Maclean Showground and have agreed to reject the newly announced reform recommendations for their fisheries. The meeting was called to discuss the draft recommendations which have recently been finalised by the Structural Adjustment Review Committee (SARC) on the share linkage, as part of the NSW commercial fisheries Business Adjustment Program, which SARC said was aimed at making commercial fishing businesses economically viable, sustainable and secure. Many fishers have been left in turmoil, after the recommendations proposed levels of investment in the fisheries that could not be justified. According to the professional fishermen at Saturday’s meeting, this recommendation (if it went ahead) would make their businesses totally unviable and could potentially see not only the loss of their livelihood, but could also see the potential closure of the fishing co-operatives in both Yamba and Iluka. According to Maclean fisherman Hank Ellem, if the draft recommendation went ahead he would only be able to work 61 days a year, compared to the 365 days a year which he can currently work. “This would reduce my income by two thirds. “My only option would be to buy out another 3.16 businesses to continue doing what I do now,” he said. Glenn Dawson, CRFC and PFA Board Director said, “The reform was intended to create strong links between commercial fishing shares and their level of access to the resource.” “What has been recommended by the independent panel however, for many of our fisheries, reduces the fishers’ capacity and requires them to significantly invest to return to their original catch levels for no visible gain.” “The independent panel’s recommendations have done little to inspire our fishermen or have any faith in the panel’s promises. “In addition, once more, we see no detailed information or costings to give our fishers any certainty about their future. “The Structural Adjustment Review Committee (SARC), which is the independent panel for the reform, is asking us to decide on our future with no knowledge of what it entails. “Our fishermen, the co-operative and buyers who support them face a future of hardship under the proposed reform and our local Clarence community will feel the full impact of this,” said Mr Dawson. “I fear these recommendations will irrevocably hurt our industry and drive good operators out. “We can only hope that the SARC and the Minister listen to these very real issues so that we can ensure that our fisheries, that produce sustainable seafood for our local communities, will be here into the future.”