Scare bad for fishing industry

Dave Swindells.
Dave Swindells. File

ROCKHAMPTON commercial fisherman Dave Swindells thinks the contamination scare that has rocked Gladstone has devastating potential for the industry.

Mr Swindells fears that the ban on fishing, which extends south from the mouth of the Fitzroy River at Port Alma, could have far reaching consequences for local fishermen.

And he warns that the ban, which is initially for 21 days as the authorities investigate the scale of contamination, could be extended to a year.

"We have predicted that this would happen given all the dredging going on and the heavy metals that might have been stirred up," he said.

"I'm not surprised at all. Everything will depend on what the scientists come back with but I know that one fisherman has been in hospital on a drip for five days and others have been affected by rashes and blotches all over their bodies."

Mr Swindells said Gladstone's commercial fishermen would not receive compensation and so would be keen to carry on earning a living.

"The next stop for the Gladstone commercial fleet is Port Alma and the Fitzroy River and if they come here it could ruin the income of our professionals.

"We will all be competing for the same stocks."

Hundreds of thousands of dollars would be ripped out of the industry, not just the professional fishermen but the businesses serving recreational anglers, he said.

At this time of year there are plenty of barramundi and blue salmon in local waters and in six weeks, the crabbing season starts, but the future looks clouded with uncertainty for the industry.

Rockhampton fishing guru Scott Lynch said yesterday he had just enjoyed a feed of local fish and saw no need for anyone to stop catching and eating.

"I think this problem is very local to the Gladstone Harbour area," he said.

"The majority of fish we get here are taken by professionals out wide while our snapper come from well south of the area in question.

"But before I comment further I would like to see the results of the tests on the fish."

Sheryl Reynolds, owner of Glenmore Seafoods in North Rockhampton, said her business did not get fish from Gladstone. "Most of our local catch is from the river, Stanage Bay and out on the reef. There's no shortage at the moment and prices have not been affected."

A spokeswoman for Rosslyn Bay Fishermen's Market said the public could be very confident that the strictest quality control systems were in place.

"The big problem this year has been the weather, but when people have been able to get out, the quality has been good."

Topics:  contamination fishing industry gladstone harbour

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