Fishos demand compensation

GLADSTONE region fishos wants compensation.

Shine Lawyers lodged legal proceedings against the State Government yesterday morning. The argument: that the ports Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) has failed to comply with conditions set by government and must now provide financial compensation to the fishing industry.

In a first for Queensland the proceedings will seek declarations the Queensland Government and GPC failed to follow the directions of its own co-ordinator general by not compensating businesses affected by the $70 billion port development.

Shine Lawyers Partner Rebecca Jancauskas said the time for decisions by the committee was over, the Gladstone fishing industry needed action to safeguard their livelihood.

"The Government's own environmental impact study flagged the fishing industry would be adversely affected," Ms Jancauskas said.

"This Government's Co-ordinator General directed the fishermen should be compensated. So then why has this not happened?"

"We've seen posturing, hand-wringing, an inconclusive scientific report and no action from the State Government - the only action being taken is our proceedings to protect the fishermen."

A GPC statement said that the compensation claim was excessive.

"GPC has always been keen to provide compensation to commercial fishers as required for the loss of access to fishing grounds caused by the Western Basin Dredging Project.

"GPC's estimate from fisheries data of the total annual gross revenue from the commercial seafood harvest in the Western Basin is around $350,000 to $400,000.

"Compensation claims, as indicated in the media, for $20 million for that loss of access are clearly excessive.

"This is especially so given the $17.5 million of fisheries enhancement and research funding being spent by GPC to counteract any impact from the Western Basin Dredging Project and to ensure any impact is contained within the Western Basin."

The statement added that GPC would happily argue the issue of compensation for disease in fish in court given the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to other environmental causes than impact from the Western Basin Dredging Project.