Fishos not giv­ing up fight

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

THE fight is not over for the lo­cal fish­ing in­dus­try which could be locked out from the Co­ral Sea un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed Co­ral Sea marine park.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Le­ich­hardt War­ren Entsch has launched a pe­ti­tion “Don’t Lock Us Out” in a plea to the Gov­ern­ment to stop the marine park and pro­mote sus­tain­able fish­ing.

Sal­taire Char­ters owner and skip­per Damien Co­lette has been oper­at­ing out of Port Dou­glas for the last 10 years and go­ing out to the Co­ral Sea dur­ing marlin sea­son and said the Gov­ern­ment has yet to show the ev­i­dence be­hind the pro­posal.

“I can’t see why they want to close down the Co­ral Sea at all, go­ing out there year af­ter year I haven’t seen any de­cline in the fish­ing or the reef sys­tems out in the Co­ral Sea,” he said.

“I’ve lis­tened to a lot of the talks about the Co­ral Sea and there’s been no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence the greens or the Gov­ern­ment have brought for­ward to war­rant the clos­ing down of the Co­ral Sea.

“All the marine ex­perts I’ve heard have all said that leav­ing it open would not harm it in any way and I haven’t seen any re­search that in­di­cated there is a prob­lem with the Co­ral Sea and with no no­tice­able fish de­cline out there.”

The pro­posal has al­ready dam­aged the rep­u­ta­tion for the up­com­ing marlin fish­ing sea­son and Mr Co­lette said if it does go ahead it will dam­age not only busi­ness but peo­ple’s chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the Co­ral Sea.

“With the talk of the Co­ral Sea pro­posed zone peo­ple are not book­ing be­cause they are not sure what’s go­ing to hap­pen and so the trips out to the Co­ral Sea have been can­celled,” he said.

“I do ex­tended trips out in the Co­ral Sea dur­ing the marlin sea­son from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber and Co­ral Sea book­ings nor­mally takes up a month of that time but have been can­celled and I’ve got va­can­cies.”

Mr Co­lette said com­mer­cial fish­ing will be the most af­fected if the marine park does go ahead and for no rea­son.

“There’s only a small num­ber of com­mer­cial fish­ers that do out go out there and the Co­ral Sea is a huge area and the north­ern re­gion does rely on fish­ing from the Co­ral Sea,” he said.

“Sus­tain­able fish­ing should be done through gov­ern­ment li­cens­ing, they should know who is go­ing out there from the li­cences they’ve given out.”

War­ren Entsch’s pe­ti­tion will be cir­cu­lated around busi­nesses and can be found on­line www.war­ and sig­na­tures need to be col­lected by Au­gust 10.

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