The state government calls it ‘opportunity’ but local professional fishos are describing it as devastation of the local industry.
Under a just-released government plan and outlined in a soon-to-be-sent letter, fishos will be given a number of options to either further invest in the industry or opt out of the industry all together.
Some of the measures include, low interest rate loans of up to $80,000 to assist with purchasing more shares; grants of up to $10,000 for retraining assistance; grants of up to $1000 for independent business advice; subsidies for buyers and sellers of shares; fishing business buyouts fixed payments of $20,000, an extended cap on management fees and assistance for fishing cooperatives including grants of $30,000 for business advice and standardised long term leases for cooperatives on Crown land.
Laurieton-based fisho Paul Moody called the government plan a devastation of the local industry.
“The government is taking part of our existing asset from us and then asking us to buy it back,” he said.
“This will devastate this industry at the very local level.
“My existing shareholding (also known as an endorsement) of 40 shares allows me to fish for 365 days of the year. Under this plan, I would be required to purchase a further 20 shares – from one of the low interest loans on offer – but ultimately I would only be allowed to fish for 60 days of the year.
“This is basically a theft of an asset.”
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the new program was flexible to suit individual operators.
“This is not a one size fits all,” she said.
“Of the 204 registered fishing businesses on the Mid-North Coast, about 109 account for 90 per cent of the overall catch and that indicates to me that there are fishos who are not utilising their full catch value.
The NSW government will also invest $400,000 as part of a campaign to promote NSW caught seafood as sustainable and fresh and work with industry to implement an origin- labelling scheme for cooked seafood across the state.