A business owner is set to lose half of his income in the “final nail in the coffin” after a major industry overhaul for crab fishers.
A business owner is set to lose half of his income in the “final nail in the coffin” after a major industry overhaul for crab fishers.

Emotional father’s business takes massive blow

A business owner is set to lose 50 per cent of his commercial crabbing income in the "final nail in the coffin" for a number of operators.

In a bid to spend more time closer to his young family, Will Pearce left the mining industry to become a commercial crabber.

The Burdekin dad had invested thousands of dollars into building up his crabbing business and purchasing a licence.

Mr Pearce was brought to tears following Wednesday's announcement of a major industry overhaul as he told the Townsville Bulletin how the new limits to his annual allowed mud crab catch would force him out of the industry.

"I was roughly down 50 per cent of what I have been catching," he said.

Mr Pearce said his draft mud crab catch allocation had been determined over the average of a number of years.

"All the years I have been fishing have been pretty average years, I haven't had the chance to have any of the good years yet," he said.

"The last couple haven't been too bad but they never got taken into (the average)."

Burdekin father of three and commercial crabber Will Pearce with son Casey (left). Mr Pearce says he will be forced out of the industry by catch allocations.
Burdekin father of three and commercial crabber Will Pearce with son Casey (left). Mr Pearce says he will be forced out of the industry by catch allocations.

The restriction on how much crab, blue swimmer crab, barramundi, grey mackerel, king threadfin, school mackerel and whiting that can be caught by individual fishermen were introduced among a raft of other measures in a Queensland government bid to regain its export permit for an east coast fishery.

Burdekin commercial crabber of more than 40 years, Neil Green, said he was now considering legal action with his draft catch allocations to come at a cost of between $25,000 to $27,000.

"I have certainly got legal advice on this and we will take it further," he said.

"We're left just carved up out here with tears in our eyes … we're sick of this."

The Queensland government was given a September 30 deadline to meet federal trade operation guidelines targeting sustainability or lose its permit to export product including mullet roe, black jewfish swim bladders and shark fin.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said he was writing to the Federal Environment Minister seeking support to reinstate export approvals for the East Coast Inshore Fishery and to extend other export approvals while these reforms are implemented.

"We are acting to support the industry's recovery by reducing red tape and making changes to meet conditions of Commonwealth Government environmental and trade approvals," he said.

"This will ensure exports continue for nearly a dozen of our key fisheries, which support nearly 1,400 fishing businesses and more than 4,000 regional jobs."

North Queensland commercial fisher Nathan Rynn said retaining the export approval was vital for exporting fish bladders, shark fins and fish roe, and keeping small businesses profitable.

"All of these products are high value and exporting allows us to use as much of the fish as possible," Mr Rynn said.

Final harvest strategies and declaration of commercial catch limits are expected to be in place in early 2021, in time for the new fishing regulations that will come into effect September, next year.

 

mikayla.mayoh@news.com.au

Originally published as Emotional father's business takes massive blow


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