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January 30, 2012

The decision to impose massive increases in fishing licence fees will undermine the viability of the Lakes Entrance commercial fishing industry according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said he had been approached by several local fishermen concerned for their future after the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) increased annual licence fees by several thousand dollars.

“At a time when fishermen are facing increased fuel costs and competing with cheap imports, increased licence fees will make it harder to survive in the industry,” Mr Chester said.

“I’ve contacted the Federal Fisheries Minister and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries Senator Richard Colbeck on behalf of local fishermen to try and get a fairer outcome.

“The Gillard Government will try anything to get the budget back into surplus but these increased fees could cripple local businesses.”

Mr Chester said he had received reports of 100 per cent increases in licence fees.

“It’s impossible for fishermen to budget with any certainty when they are hit with fee increases of this size,” Mr Chester said.

“The fishermen can’t pass on the cost to consumers because they operate in a market system and it will be the local economy that suffers if individual operators have less disposable income.

“The government needs to decide whether it supports a sustainable and world class Australian fishing industry or wants to tax it out of existence.”

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