OPINION: Facts might be handy in sustainable fishing debate
IF COMPANIES that rely on harvesting wild fish deplete the resource so badly they can't be trusted to keep using it, they should be evicted from the sea without compensation.
No licence buy backs, no 'we're sorry' money. Just tear the licences up.
The offenders should be made to clean up the mess, restore the fish populations using their own funds, and apply for licences once they've fixed their practices or else get out of town.
The trouble is, I haven't seen reports that fish stocks around Noosa are being smashed by commercial fishers. Have I missed something?
Sea mullet, shark, whiting, bream, flatheat - these are just a few of the species for which commercial catches are licenced by the Queensland Fisheries - and last time I checked the numbers were doing fine.
In an email I received on July 11, Fisheries Queensland said Noosa and Mooloolaba commercial fishers had a 93% compliance rate, with just one infringement notice prosecuted in the previous six months. Indeed, we've got some of the best fishers in Mooloolaba - certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
So I was surprised when I heard about Noosa councillor Frank Pardon's push to use $1million of his council's environment levy to part-fund the buyback of commercial fishing licences.
Is there a fundamental problem with the scientific method the fisheries department uses to work out fishing quotas? Have they been issuing licences willy nilly, based on gut feeling or tradition, and not population ecology?
If so they need to be investigated. It wouldn't be the first time a state department had its figures wrong.
I lived in Victoria in 2002 when the public forestry department was exposed for having over-cut public forests for decades.
It was a blacksmith and a nurse who uncovered this, in a self-funded review that led the State Government to reduce the annual allowable harvest of sawlogs from native forests ('sustainable yield') by 31%.
Licences were bought back, and in this case, it was justified - because the government got it wrong.
If the move to rid Noosa of commercial net fishing is simply because people don't like seeing fish nets on beaches, I think they need to grow up.
Do we want Noosa to become a town where the only industry is tourism?
But if there's any evidence marine ecosystems in our region are being damaged by net fishing, let's get a thorough review in place ASAP.
Thanks Frank for bringing up this important issue. Let's get to the facts pronto.