Jan 2018

The only sharks in the water are Qld revenue collectors

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4 January 2018: KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has today voiced his concerns in letters to relevant Federal and State Fisheries Ministers over the Queensland Government’s ‘Sustainable Resource Strategy’ which will require all commercial boat owners to install a tracking device that will monitor movements in and out of green fishing zones.

The initiative will see all commercial and charter boats in Queensland fitted with a vessel tracking unit (VTU) by 2020; and the unit must be purchased by the commercial operator for an initial fee of $230, plus another $40 fee per month to receive compulsory data.

Mr Katter said that Kennedy is one of three electorates with over 700km of coastline – including 350km which takes in much of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria of which several commercial and charter fishing businesses operate as major economic draw-cards for the region.

Mr Katter said that charter operators will feel the pinch of further onerous regulation and that the initiative adds no value to the ‘sustainable fishery strategy’.

Charter operators have raised concerns over the ‘pointless initiative’ arguing that people that break the law and fish in green zones will continue to fish in green zones even with the tracking system by avoiding detection simply by anchoring outside the zone and using an un-tracked tender to fish within the zone. In addition, the tracking systems won’t make a difference to stopping incursions into green zones because it cannot be proven if a boat is fishing in these zones – or simply anchoring in these zones.

It also provides the illegal operators – that operate un-surveyed boats with unqualified skippers – with a competitive advantage as they will continue to operate unhindered and avoid paying these costs.

Mr Katter said that this was just another example of the Queensland Government revenue raising with boutique charter operators being stung the most given the $640 charge will be lobbed on top of other significant regulatory costs.

“For a typical 25ft fishing vessel which has a maximum capacity of 12 paying passengers, operators incur between $6,000 and $7,000 in permits before they even ‘turn a propeller’.

“Operators are already required to pay for a number of permits and charges including quarterly environmental management charges, council permits for beach and jetty operations, native title permits and others.

“This new VTU requirement shows that the only form of Government that we have in Qld is one that is out to skin the workers to create public service jobs and to buy some very irresponsible trade union support.

“Commercial boat owners will now be paying at the start nearly $700 and rest assured it will escalate from there.

“Over Christmas the police were told to go out there and raise revenue for the Qld Government by fining us all for being 2km over the speed limit or some other ridiculous transgression. Revenue raising is much more important than catching criminals so the police force gets prostituted and now the boating public are going to cop it.

“So where you thought you could get away from it all, and have a day of fun out on the boat fishing, now it will be a nightmare of dodging marine zones, and national parks and exclusion areas.

“So no camping, no hunting, no shooting and now no fishing.

“The Brisbane Bludgerigars have created in Qld the most restrictive state on earth. At the current growth rate of people in prison, the so-called Government of Qld is just a piece of machinery to work out ways to raise money to buy votes to get them through the next election.

“Humanity cuts no ice with the Bludgerigars. My last memory of this issue was Fred Marcello (not his real name) who was fishing off Tully with his son and grandkids at a place where his family has fished since the 1890s. Fred waved to the police boat that was coming over to say g’day to him and he offered them some stubbies. Fred had never had a parking fine in his life. The police were his friends. But he was prosecuted and was convicted of “criminal charges” for fishing in a green zone. I doubt that whether Fred understood what a green zone was. Fred sat in my office and bawled his eyes out in the horror of being marked as a criminal for forever for doing something that North Queenslanders have been doing for 20,000 – 30,000 years.

“The oppressive nature of Government and the weird belief system that underlies their motivation is scary and we are going to fight this imposition.”

Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au