Seafood industry hits back at ‘machine gun’ allegations
THE seafood industry has reacted angrily to claims by Labor Wide Bay candidate Lucy Stanton that inshore netters are using machine guns to scare residents and tourists, while also defying environmental and food safety regulations.
Solicitor Chris Thompson, representing the Queensland Seafood Industry Association said Ms Stanton should "re-think (her) unfair attacks on commercial netters."
He said "there is no scientific basis for any claims that ocean beach netters cause any harm to the environment.
"The main target over the winter months is mullet, which recreational fishers do not typically catch. It is a specifically targeted fish with limited by catch and proven to be sustainable," he said.
Ms Stanton has advocated extending Fraser Island's World Heritage area to the mainland, including an inshore net fishing ban.
"The people living on Noosa North Shore and those tourists visiting are being forced to put up with shocking behaviour.
"They lack respect for people and have even less regard for the environment," she said.
"Residents have reported automatic gunfire at night during this latest episode of worrying behaviour on the part of these people.
"Their actions are having the effect of scaring away the public from observing what they are doing on Noosa North Shore beaches," she said.
Her claims were mostly ridiculed on The Gympie Times online website, but one supporter accused the paper of "another GT beatup"
"Automatic gunfire does not mean a machine gun," the correspondent said, although many with knowledge of guns disagree.
The National Firearms Act in the USA defines "machine gun" as "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger."
"It is hard enough to catch a fish, let alone being concerned for your safety when spending your recreation time on Noosa North Shore," Ms Stanton said.
She says "the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger" has told her the netters defy the law and continue to camp illegally near the river mouth.
"This complete disregard for regulations is a serious concern for all of us.
"It is their reason for my pledge to fight for better and proper protection for our environment from those who would abuse it without a thought."
She had questioned net fishers about their activities and found no evidence of ice or cooling.
Mr Thompson, of legal firm Law Essentials, accused Ms Stanton of "trying to create hysteria in the hope of getting airplay for your own benefit in your election campaign".
"If you have actual evidence to back your claims, you are welcome to put that evidence forward," he said. "It appears however you have hearsay assertions that you use to tarnish the reputation of these hard-working Queenslanders who are solid contributors to the local economy. Isn't that what Labor stands for - sticking up for the workers?"
The story attracted 16 online responses, mostly critical of Ms Stanton.
Of online survey respondents, 10% said they had seen concerning behaviour at Noosa North Shore, but 82% had not.