Reforms threaten to leave third generation fisher all at sea
MARIO Puglisi is a third-generation fisherman with over three decades of experience in Ballina.
But it's a lineage that's likely to end if reform proposals put forward by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) go through unchanged.
The proposals are part of the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program which aims to remove unnecessary fishing controls and improve the management of commercial fisheries.
Mr Puglisi's fishing business covers a range of species, including prawn trawling, gathering pipis by hand, and sea mullet netting.
For pipi gathering alone, Mr Puglisi said he would have to spend between $45,000 and $60,000 to buy back his business under the changes.
He said the current limit of 6240kg of pipis a year under his endorsements would be taken down to a 1768kg limit in one option, requiring him to buy three more endorsements to legally gather the same quantity as he does now.
"It's going to push a lot of people out," he said.
"A lot of people aren't going to be able to afford to continue doing what they were doing.
"The way fishing is, the majority of us just make ends meet as it is.
"Our price for the product hasn't changed in the last couple of years."
Mr Puglisi said on top of buying back their businesses, fishermen would also have to fork out a small fortune to pay for increases in licensing fees.
"It's just more expense on the individual fisherman, which 95% of them basically cannot afford," he said.
Mr Puglisi said licence fees had already risen 40% with 60% more on the cards.
In response to strong representations on the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program, the deadline for submissions was extended to Friday, May 30.
But Mr Puglisi said none of the options put forward by the DPI is feasible and NSW fishermen need to be given more time to come up with alternative options.