Furner in a tangle over NX fishing licences

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto.

5 February 2024

Last year, the State and Commonwealth Labor Governments imposed sweeping gillnet fishing bans across the entire East Coast under the guise of conservation efforts, while promising to issue 40 special NX symbols (licences) to eligible fishers who could carry on conditional fishing activity until June 2027 to meet market demand for wild caught seafood products.

The NX licences were meant to partially sustain fishing activities while ensuring a continued supply of locally caught fish. The remainder of commercial fishers not wishing to operate under an NX symbol were expecting to receive ex-gratia payments for up to three years of lost income.

However, the reality paints a starkly different picture as Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto MP once again takes up the fight against the unjust practices imposed by the government’s mishandling of gillnet fishing bans.

Mr Dametto and the KAP have been staunch advocates for the rights of commercial net fishers on the East Coast and also in the Gulf of Carpentaria since the first damming announcement of the bans was made back in June 2023.

Mr Dametto said it was heartbreaking to see the 2024 barramundi season open but the majority of net fishers still on land with no fishing licence and no means to earn an income.

“Late last year we pleaded with the Fisheries Minister to hit the pause button on these bans until the Government had all their ducks in a row about the buy outs and the NX licence. Now here we are, post 1 February 2024 with no payments made and only a few NX licences issued,” he said.

“The Government has once again demonstrated a disgusting lack of accountability and transparency in its handling of the situation and the dugongs they are claiming to protect would have been no worse off if these bans had just been pushed back another 12 months.

“There hasn’t even been a recorded dugong death on the East Coast since 2020 due to gillnet fishing but facts don’t seem to mean much to the infiltrated WWF and Queensland Fisheries department.

“I can’t even be kind enough to say it’s incompetence. Queensland Fisheries’ systematic shutdown of commercial fishing has left licence holders in the dark, with no clarity or guidance on how to proceed with their livelihoods and it’s being viewed as deliberate by fishers.

“Fishers along the East Coast deserve transparency, fairness, and respect for their livelihoods, and consumers deserve to be able to purchase wild locally caught produce that grows at sustainable rates right on our doorstop and that is something that I and my KAP colleagues will continue to advocate for when Parliament resumes in the coming weeks.


Nick Dametto MP