Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has warned an election promise from the Victorian Labor Party to close the Gippsland Lakes to commercial fishing would be another nail in the coffin for Australia's commercial fishing industry.
"In the last three months alone we've seen lockouts like this proposed in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia," SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.
"If governments want to shut down our waters to commercial fishing, where do they expect people to get their seafood? Australia has some of the best managed fisheries in the world, yet 70 per cent of seafood eaten in Australia is imported. This doesn't make sense and is irresponsible.
"There are strict management plans, quotas and licences in place which dictated how much can be caught, where it can be caught and when it can be caught. We don't, we can't and we wouldn't want to just go out and catch as much as we possibly can. As professional fishers, we have a responsibility to contribute to the global food task, and our governments have a responsibility to help us do that. This requires leadership, not popularist policies.
"The announcement from the Victorian Labor Government has completely blindsided industry and cast a dark cloud over the future livelihood of the 10 licence holders in the Gippsland Lakes, their employees and the countless more whose jobs will be impacted further downstream in post-harvest, transport, retail and foodservice."
"The decision to stop commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes has been announced by Daniel Andrews with no research, no evidence, no rationale and no consultation with the fishing industry," Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV) Executive Director Johnathan Davey said.
"We, the industry, have had no consultation from the Andrews Labor Party on this commitment. SIV has asked the government to engage proper research to inform any decisions of this nature because we recognise the Gippsland Lakes system has changed.
"Once again the commercial seafood industry are victims of the electoral cycle. It is becoming ever clearer that Daniel Andrews doesn't support or like to consume local, Victorian seafood. He and the Victorian Labor Party are not part of the 5.4 million Victorians who rely on our amazing Victorian seafood industry to provide them with fresh, local, sustainable seafood."