Impending closure of Spanish mackerel fishery smells ‘fishy’

12th April 2022

Trevor Kyle, Bob Katter MP, Nick Dametto MP, Shane Knuth MP and Lisa Putzka at the press conference held Tuesday 12th April.

The Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and North Queensland-based business owners and commercial fishermen have today slammed the Queensland Government for what has been labelled the “devastating mismanagement” of the Spanish mackerel fishery and proposed quotas reductions.

Information circulating from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries proposes to reduce, from July 1, the total allowable catch for commercial fisheries by 75-90 per cent and current recreational bag limits to one fish per person with a maximum of two per boat.

KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP, Nick Dametto said that Spanish mackerel was profoundly sought after by North Queensland restaurants and retailers, and the proposed changes were causing concerns for the industry.

“You won’t be able to put a piece of Spanish mackerel on your plate, simply because commercial fishermen are being asked to reduce their ability to produce and earn to approximately 80 per cent,” said Mr Dametto.

“These Queenslanders will not be able to survive the next five years on 20 per cent of the quota that they have been allocated in the past.

“They may as well park up their vessels now and turn in their licenses.

“The latest communication coming back from the Minister’s office to some of our licence holders here in the Hinchinbrook Shire has been whatever the Working Group has come forward with that is just a suggestion and now we are going out to Public Consultation which finishes on May 5.

“I encourage people to get involved and make their voice heard but unfortunately, the Public Consultation is like a multiple-choice that makes you pick from one of the two evils.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be the consumers that miss out here the most.”

Member for Hill, Shane Knuth, has questioned the Queensland Government and Department of Fisheries on their management of the Spanish Mackerel fishery.

“You can walk into any fish and chip shop in North Queensland and ask for a battered or crumbed fish and you can guarantee 90 per cent of the time it will be Spanish mackerel,” said Mr Knuth.

“Since 2004 the average take of commercial Spanish mackerel has been about 300 tonnes a year, that is half the allowable average. And yet they are looking at shutting down the industry.

“Either the Department is cooking the books, the data is flawed, or they have badly mismanaged the industry that bad that they need to compensate the commercial fishers and the industry.

“The Government really needs to take a look here because this is going to have a massive impact on the Fisheries industry and those that go to restaurants will suffer.”

The KAP is encouraging Queenslanders to get involved with the DAF East Coast Spanish Mackerel Fishery public consultation by completing the survey by 5pm Thursday 5th May.[1]

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Nick Dametto MP