A well-designed buy-back scheme and a crackdown on illegal professional fishing are needed to secure the future of the industry on the Clarence River, Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell has told Parliament.

Speaking on the NSW Government’s Fisheries Management Amendment Bill, Mr Cansdell said the situation was getting desperate for Clarence professional fishers, and urgent Government action was required.

Quoting correspondence from one local fisher, he said: “We have not had a solid income in months. How long before the Government of the day starts to take notice and offers us some help? Do they intend to wait until fishermen start to take their own lives before they offer us any assistance? Steve, we are getting very close to that point.”

Mr Cansdell told Parliament: “The Government should address the issues related directly to the viability of the fishing industry not just in the Clarence but throughout the State.

“There is a dire need for a buy-back scheme that is focused solely on reducing fishing effort, thus maintaining fish stocks and ecology as well as ensuring the future viability of the fishing industry.

“One of the most insidious problems associated with the fishing industry is the illegal sale of fish on the black market to shops and restaurants.

“Among the many threats to the fishing industry, those illegal practices constitute a direct threat to the viability of the fishing industry.”

Mr Cansdell was also critical of the Government for being over-zealous in fining recreational fishers who accidentally strayed into marine parks.

“I have received many complaints from people in my electorate who have been fined $500 for fishing just inside an exclusion zone because the boundaries have not been clearly defined by ocean or land markers,” Mr Cansdell said.