NEWS An­gling for bet­ter deal

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - HAY­LEY SORENSEN

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.