State and Federal Government Ministers have been asked to avoid any Bass Strait offshore wind farm proposals that will impact on the Lakes Entrance commercial fishing industry.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, with Federal MP Darren Chester, has jointly written to Federal Climate and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, outlining the sector’s concerns and Mr Bull last week raised the matter in the Victorian Parliament with State Ministers.
“What needs to be understood by the decision makers is, any windfarm development in the eastern end of the proposed zone will significantly impact on critical commercial fishing grounds and should be avoided at all costs.
“I think the two industries can co-exist and there are some areas of this windfarm zone footprint that would have a far lesser impact on fishing than the eastern end of the zone and that is where wind farm development should be focussed,” Mr Bull said.
Chairman of the Lakes Entrance Fishermen Limited (LEFL) Board, Bruce Hammond, said the organisation and its members were keen to engage with any wind farm proponents with the aim of protecting key grounds.
“The commercial sector has for decades faced ‘spatial squeeze’ from the expanding oil and gas industry and cannot afford the loss of any more prime areas,” he said.
Mr Bull told Parliament the Lakes Entrance fleet was crucial to not only East Gippsland, but also to the local economy, and reminded MP’s that Australia was a net importer for seafood, so it needed to protect its home-based sector.
Monday, 23 October 2023
“My concern is that there has been a real lack of consultation with this sector, and it was disappointing to read a government directive that advised proponents not to consult with them at this stage.
“I have asked the State Minister who is responsible for commercial fisheries, to come to East Gippsland and meet the licence holders with me.
“Mr Dimopoulos is new to his portfolio, and I expect will have little knowledge of commercial fishing, so it would be a good fact-finding process for him to better understand the issue.
“Of interest is that he is also Minister for Tourism and, while there are areas along the Gippsland coastline that would have little visual impact, off Lakes Entrance is not one of those, and this also needs to be a consideration.”
Mr Bull reinforced that he believes the industries can co-exist, but communication needs to be improved and a commitment received that key fishing grounds will be protected.