Mackay Reef Fish Supplies owner David Caracciolo says new government regulations are a threat to the viability of the commercial fishing industry in Mackay.
Mackay Reef Fish Supplies owner David Caracciolo says new government regulations are a threat to the viability of the commercial fishing industry in Mackay. Melanie Plane

Vessel tracking bringing big brother on board

THE small number of commercial anglers still operating out of Mackay reportedly feel bullied by a never-ending avalanche of government regulation and red tape.

The latest bugbear is the Queensland Government's looming guidelines on the mandatory installation of vessel tracking units.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the government partnered with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to make up to $3 million available to help implement tracking.

All commercial and charter boats are required to install tracking units by 2020 with net, line and crab boats to have units installed and operational from January 1 next year as part of Queensland's Sustainable Fisheries Strategy.

Mackay Reef Fish Supplies owner David Caracciolo reckons continual targeting through mounting legislative measures had taken quite a toll on the morale and profitability of commercial operators who call Mackay home.

He believes there's about 25 operators undertaking the tough work, providing fresh fish to the local market.

Mr Caracciolo fears Mackay residents will eventually be forced towards imported seafood as operators pack up.

He recently emailed a long list of government ministers expressing his concerns but expects to receive few, if any, responses.

"Everything is coming down on the commercial operator to be tracked and to be monitored. It's just totally wrong," Mr Caracciolo said.

"The recreational sector is 100 times bigger than the commercial sector.

"There's something like 30-40,000 pleasure boats in the Mackay district and when it comes to commercial, there's about nine or 10 reef operators and 10 or 15 coastal blokes."

Mr Caracciolo said eventually "we're going to have to tell (customers), 'sorry, the fish is now from Vietnam'."

"There's just more and more pressure on smaller operators," he said.



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