Family man at breaking point

Gladstone Fish Market owner Simon Whittingham is going through tough times.
Gladstone Fish Market owner Simon Whittingham is going through tough times. Christopher Chan GLAFISH

HIS export business is decimated, at an estimated cost of $9 to $11 million a year.

"It's dead, 100%. It doesn't exist."

But that's just the financial toll.

The emotional strain has cost fishmonger Simon Whittingham far more.

Simon co-owns the Gladstone Fish Market with his father, Ted.

Together they built a business they were proud of.

Now, Simon says he feels like a failure.

He's had to let staff go since he and Ted decided to stop selling seafood from the Gladstone Harbour.

"I did not choose to be forced into a position where I have to let good people go because my business can't support it," Simon said.

"It's bullshit, mate.

"How did it make me feel? Angry."

Simon tries to protect his family from the anger and hurt he's feeling, but it's not always possible.

"I got home one night, and my daughter said, 'Daddy, are you okay?'

"And I said, 'Yes, darling'.

"She said, 'Dad - I saw a picture of you in the newspaper and I saw you on the news tonight and you don't look happy'.

"She's seven."

But Simon said his confidence was starting to return. He has had to take 14 weeks of stress leave and he's now seeing a counsellor.

"The tablet works that the doctor gave me to keep my anger under control...

"It's been a hell of a road."

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