Melbourne Seafood Centre chairman Andrew McLaughlin today said the Andrews Labor Government’s rationale for bringing an end to commercial fishing in Port Phillip Bay was nonsense, describing the move as blatantly political.
Last week the government introduced legislation to end commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay. It says this is the centerpiece of its plan to boost the number of people participating in recreational fishing to more than one million.
This legislation has only ever been about securing votes from elite recreational anglers and has been tabled in parliament without considering the broader ramifications and the impact on all Victorians,” Mr McLaughlin said.“The government’s suggestion that this will increase catch rates and the size of fish for recreational anglers in Port Phillip Bay is not supported by any facts. Rather, Australian Conservation Foundation research shows that commercial fishing in the bay is sustainable in terms of both fish stocks and marine habitat.
Andrew McLaughlin – Melbourne Seafood Centre chairman[/important]
Recreational anglers already take six times more snapper from Port Phillip Bay than commercial fishers and twice as much whiting according to recent studies. If the number of recreational anglers were to increase significantly, as the government hopes, this would put even more pressure on fish stocks.
Mr McLaughlin said the ramifications of the legislation would be felt throughout Victoria and many small businesses would be affected — not just the 43 inter-generational family fishing businesses that will be shut down.
“Seafood wholesalers and retailers, restaurants, hotels and your local fish and chip shop are all impacted,” he said. “The government should support these small businesses.
“As a result of this legislation the 87 per cent of Victorians who do not fish recreationally will no longer be able to buy fresh, local and affordable seafood. Instead they will be forced to purchase more seafood from international fisheries where we cannot be assured of acceptable environmental or social standards — and the price of seafood in Victoria will increase dramatically.”
[flexiblemap center=”-38.1500,144.8667″ title=”Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia” width=”300px” zoom=”9″]Once the ban is in place iconic Port Phillip Bay species such as King George whiting, rock flathead, garfish and calamari will no longer be available fresh from the bay.
“The science shows that commercial fishermen can coexist with recreational anglers in Port Phillip Bay as they have for 170 years,” Mr McLaughlin said.
“The Andrews Labor Government is spending $27 million of public money to deny Victorians a resource they have had access to for more than a century. Ultimately, it is Victorian consumers who will pay the price for this ill-considered legislation.”
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The Melbourne Seafood Centre is owned by the 11 tenants of the centre. These 11 partners are wholesale distributors and retailers who are committed to delivering and producing high quality seafood for Victoria through it’s competitive market.
The majority of seafood that is traded in the Melbourne Seafood Centre is sourced from all over Australia (in particular Victoria), New Zealand and from all over the globe.