Support fishers, says MP
The NSW Government has been called on to amend legislation to help the Ballina community cope with the impact of the massive fish kill and the imminent closure of the lower Richmond River to fishing.
Ballina MP Don Page said the fish kill was disastrous environmentally and the river closure would have significant flow-on effects for professional fishers, recreational fishers, bait shops, tourism operators and the general business community.
Unfortunately the professional fishers will not be able to access low interest loans under the Natural Disaster Relief Scheme because they are harvesters and not primary producers, Mr Page said. This is an unfair distribution to draw given fishers provide food for human consumption just like primary producers.
I believe the eligibility criteria should be amended to enable professional fishers (who will lose their income when the river is closed) to access low interest loans in the same way primary producers can under the Natural Disaster Relief Scheme, he said.
Mr Page also said that if the NSW Government closed the river, the fishers would be likely to seek compensation.