NEWS Angling for better deal
CHANGES to NT fishing regulations have destroyed a Gray commercial fisho’s livelihood, with claims John Ryan’s licence is now “worthless”.
Mr Ryan’s commercial fishing licence was supposed to be his superannuation.
It cost him $60,000 when he bought it more than a decade ago, with the plan to eventually retire on his boat, supporting himself by selling his catch. He has also paid $2000 each year in licence fees. When he bought it, the licence entitled him to fish the entire Territory coastline.
But changes in 2015 have made it a liability, rather than an asset, he said.
A catch quota system was introduced in the western zone and distributed between eight licensees who had been fishing in the region. The other 44 licensees — including Mr Ryan — had their permission to fish anywhere west of the Cobourg Peninsula revoked, halving their operational area.
Mr Ryan said the change meant he would no longer be able to make a living from his fishing licence.
Instead of enjoying his retirement, he is still working part time running the club on Milikapiti.
He said he was disappointed the government had refused to offer him any compensation or buy back his now worthless licence. He looked into selling it to a company from Queensland, but there was little interest.
“Even if I did sell it to some other poor bugger, that would just mean that would put them in the same boat I’m in now,” he said.
Mr Ryan said the lack of compensation was made more difficult to accept given the Labor Government’s commitment of $50 million to infrastructure upgrades to benefit recreational fishers.
A small part of that $50 million could have been used to provide some compensation to affected commercial operators, he said.
A Primary Industries Department spokeswoman said Mr Ryan and other affected fishers weren’t entitled to compensation because the change was made to protect the sustainability of the fishery.
She said the department undertook “extensive consultation” about the changes before they went ahead, including Mr Ryan.