Negligent NX licence conditions put fishers’ lives at risk

Lucas Dansie, Nick Dametto MP & Darcy Fazio.


23 February 2024

 The Queensland Government and the Department of Fisheries are under fire this week after footage was released of a commercial fisher’s near miss whilst servicing a gillnet near Ingham.

Commercial gillnet fisher Darcy Fazio, was attempting to check his net in accordance with the two-hour time limits placed on fishers to service nets under the new NX licence conditions.

The footage shows Mr Fazio’s hand becoming tangled in the net and the strength of the current almost resulted in Mr Fazio being pulled overboard into crocodile infested waters.

Mr Fazio said under his previous fishing licence he would have checked and serviced the nets when it was safe to do so and in accordance with his Safety Operating Procedures.

“The new NX licence stipulates that our nets must be checked every two hours, regardless of the current which creates an unsafe situation such as exactly what happened the other night,” Mr Fazio said.

“That incident happened because the current was too strong and if I had not been pulled back, the worst case scenario was I would have been run over by the boat and killed, or taken by a crocodile.

“The crocodiles where we fish are massive and one of them hanging around that night would have been about 18 foot long.

“Towards the low and top end of the tide is when the current is at its slackest and that’s when we would normally check our nets and bring the gear in too.

“We’ve been fishing for 40 years, we know how to avoid unsafe situations like that. It’s these new rules that have been made by people up in offices that are endangering my life.”

Owner of North Shore Seafoods, Lucas Dansie said professional fishers are called professional for a reason and it should be their call to make when the conditions are safe for them check their nets.

“We’ve got Government legislation that has made blanket rules where they’ve decided what should be done without any care or attention as to how these people actually fish,” Mr Dansie said.

“The worst part is, this incident was recorded and there was a human observer on board who has seen this happen and as far as we know, nothing was reported to the governing body.

“At what point do they make these rules up and think that this is realistically going to work. At no time during the creation of the NX licences and the conditions did the Government consult with fishers to come up with a game plan that would actually work and be safe.

“If you raised a safety concern like this in any other industry it would be brought up and acted on immediately and someone has to be held to blame here, and it’s not the fisher, he’s doing what he’s told.”

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto said that the footage of Mr Fazio’s near miss should serve as a wake-up call to the Fisheries Department and Minister Furner.

“It’s been anything but smooth sailing when it comes to the implementation of the NX licence,” Mr Dametto said.

“The problem with the NX licence is we have got unworkable conditions that have created unsafe fishing operations that actually breach a lot of commercial fisher’s Safety Operating Procedures.

“The lives of commercial fishers have been put in jeopardy with the current conditions.

“What makes it worse, I recently sat down with the Minister’s staff and departmental officers and tried to explain some of these problems and how they are effecting the safety of workers and all they could say was that they’re going to review the conditions in twelve months which is ludicrous.

“If there was a safety issue on a mine site or construction site it would be tools down immediately and they’d be fixing that problem. Instead all we get from this Government is a review in twelve months time.

“We could have someone maimed or even lose their life out there in that period of time. If the State Government is true to their word and want to work with commercial fishers to make sure there is an industry moving forward, they must work hand in glove.

“I’m calling on the State Government to immediately review the NX licence conditions and continue to do so on a rolling basis. There is no reason why workers’ safety should be put at risk for another 12 months. If the State Government don’t act now, they should be held vicariously liable for any accident or death.”


Nick Dametto MP