Rally to Save Australian Seafood

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto with North Shore Seafood Co. owners Stephanie Moore & Lucas Dansie.

11 August 2023

Stakeholders, representatives and supporters of the seafood industry will rally together at Queensland’s Parliament House on the 22nd of August 2023 to protest against the State and Federal Labor Governments’ decision to ban all gillnet fishing by mid-2027.

Queensland Fisheries admitted that the decision was made by multiple levels of government in response to international concerns raised by UNESCO about the health of the reef and its World Heritage status. The Department spokesperson claimed there was ‘not time or the ability to undertake [industry] consultation.’

The decision will completely destroy the gillnet fishing industry and for many commercial fishers it will be the end of their entire business. The State Government established a taskforce to determine how $160 million of joint government funds will be distributed to those who have suffered economic loss due to the decision.

Rally organiser and owner of North Shore Seafood Co, Mr. Lucas Dansie, said that the decision to shut down the entire east-coast net fishing industry would have detrimental consequences not only for those in the seafood industry but also consumers.

“The fish that we’ll see vanish off the shelves and off restaurant plates are the day-to-day species such as barramundi, king salmon, blue salmon, grunter, and flathead. Those are the fish that people ask for because they know it is local, fresh and sustainably caught,” Mr Dansie said.

“Consumers will see an increase in imported produce which has no guarantee where it has come from or if it was caught sustainably. The other alternative is farmed seafood which isn’t a fan favourite.

“We don’t agree with the decision. It’s been made without consultation and had they asked us, or had they even bothered to come out and see how the gillnets are used, they would have realised that protected species such as dugongs and dolphins are very rarely, if ever, caught in these nets.

“The public are being sold a lie by people such as UNESCO who have a very clear plan and ideology to wipe out commercial fishing all together.

“I speak on behalf of the whole industry when I say that we want a well-managed fishery, not a cancelled one.

“I arranged the rally at Parliament House in August to send a clear message to the government that we aren’t just going to roll over and accept these decisions.

“As voters, we expect our government to stand up for the rights of Queenslanders and for our industries, not destroy our livelihoods for the sake of appeasing an international agency that could be described as an activist organisation at best.”

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto, said the lack of industry consultation prior to the joint announcement was a reflection of how the government viewed those in Queensland’s commercial fishing industry.

“The commercial fishing industry across the entire east-coast fishery has been dealt a significant blow, first it was Spanish mackerel quota cuts, and now the gillnet fishing industry has been completed gutted by both the State and Federal Labor Governments,” said Mr Dametto.

“This is a knee jerk reaction from the Federal Government pushed down through the State because UNESCO is making activities on the reef look bad and threatening to put it on the danger list.

“Time and time again we see photos or videos of dugongs and turtles caught in nets but those aren’t the gillnets that are now being banned.

“The nets responsible for killing marine life are usually trawling nets that don’t come from Australian fishing vessels and have nothing to do with the gillnet fishing industry which is conducted in the shallows and estuaries.

“No one wants to see our commercial fishing industry properly managed more than the fishers themselves. Some of these family businesses are intergenerational so of course sustainable management is needed to guarantee supply for generations to come.

“There is also going to be a flow on effect to tourists who come here expecting the full tropical North Queensland experience. That experience includes eating locally caught, fresh seafood and after Christmas that will be gone.

“Whether you’re a commercial fisher, or just a consumer who likes a good tasting fish burger, I would say that you should definitely be trying to show your support and make your way to the rally.

“Other industries should also be doing their best to support this cause. It would be reckless to believe that UNESCO will be satisfied by this decision. It is clear as day that farmers will be targeted next.

“Fishers today, farmers tomorrow.”


Nick Dametto MP