1 December 2015

Page 8

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Anger over net ban Continued from Page 1 “We are asking the government ‘Where will the fish come from?’ That’s what we would like to know. Restrictions in other areas [of the state and nationally] mean we will not be able to cater to demand and this will mean consumers have to buy imported fish.” He scoffed at claims the bill included a “generous compensation package”, saying the loss of the industry would financially ruin previously sound family businesses. The decision to reduce payments over the seven-year buy-out period “to encourage early exit from the fishery” was also gutting fishermen whose lives were being turned upside down. “The bay’s a unique fishery,” he said. “It offers a sustainable resource and fishermen use methods that are ecologically friendly.” He said markets would be affected by a shortage of quality local fish which would then have to be imported. Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said compensation payments would depend on catch histories and “will provide proper recognition of individual investment and loss of income to licensees”. “The government appreciates that this decision impacts on the livelihood of licence holders, many of whom are multi-generational fishers with strong family connections to the industry. “The phasing out commercial net fishing will get more people fishing, more often, right here on Melbourne’s doorstep. “[It] will attract more visitors to this prime fishing destination, boosting local economies and supporting local businesses.” Melbourne Seafood Centre chairman Andrew McLaughlin said the “biggest loser” would be the consumer. “They've got a beautiful array of fish that’s available to them in retail shops and restaurants. “They all utilise that fish and it’s not going to be available to them anymore. And it’s the sort of thing that they won’t realise until it’s gone.”

Buyout spells Mike Hast mike@mpnews.com.au MORNINGTON fisherman Neville Hutchins was in a sombre mood last week when he found out legislation to ban commercial netting in Port Phillip had been passed in the Parliament. “We knew it was coming but Dalton [his brother and fishing business partner] and I are very disappointed. Our customers are ropeable and I don’t think many of them will vote Labor in future.” More than 2500 people have signed his petition in the past year calling on the government to reverse its decision. The brothers are fourth generation peninsula fishermen with George Hutchins arriving at Mt Martha in the 1850s and several other family members working the waters off the southern peninsula and Mornington in the 1800s through till now. But it will be the end of the line for the Hutchins when they hand back their fishing licences as the government phases out commercial net fishing by 2022. And a fifth generation Hutchins will never get the chance to carry on the family business – Dalton's 16-yearold son Scott. Neville Hutchins is also disappointed about the way the government intends to compensate Port Phillip’s 43 commercial licence holders, only 27 of who are active (he and Dalton have one each that costs $4500 a year). “The licence has to be renewed every April and the government will


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Mornington News 1 December 2015

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