David Caracciolo, Mackay Reef Fish Supplies.
David Caracciolo, Mackay Reef Fish Supplies. Emma Murray

Fisherman fears black market will emerge

A MACKAY fish market owner has slammed the proposed quotas on fishermen as another slap in the face that will result in the death of the industry.

"I might have to start selling chickens and chips or shut the doors," Mackay Fish Market owner David Caracciolo said.

Operators will be out of pocket between 30 and 60 per cent under the new system, which introduces quotas for crab, trawl and inshore commercial fishing.

Not only will each commercial fisherman have an annual quota based on their log book figures from the past six years, but the state's east coast will be divided into six sections that will also have a total allowable catch.

Mr Caracciolo said the new system would result in dwindling seafood supplies and increased prices passed on to the consumer.

"It's just getting rid of all these small industries that contribute to the economy of these coastal towns," he said.

"At the moment the fishermen have been treating their licence like their superannuation ... they have an asset to sell or pass on to a younger operator.

"But with this quota ... the licence is valueless now."

He also believed the quotas would lead to "high-grading", which is when fishers discard product so their quota isn't depleted by low value fish.

Mr Caracciolo also believed it would lead to a rise in the amateur black market within Mackay, especially in terms of mud crabs.

A consultation process into the new quotas closes on April 26.

"We need public support and we need the public to realise how serious this is," he said.

Acting Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Anthony Lynham said years of consultation showed there was strong support for change to ensure a sustainable fishery.

"Reforming these fisheries will allow us to review and eventually remove the investment warnings that have been in place for some time, while ensuring our fisheries maintain Wildlife Trade Operations accreditation by the Commonwealth Government," he said.

"We understand the importance of allocation decisions for commercial fishing businesses, which is why we have consulted so extensively with industry stakeholders. We are moving towards a sustainable fishery and one in line with best practice internationally."