Article – Northern development: Fisheries head spruiks opportunities for industry to expand in NT

21 May 2014
Kristy O’Brien
ABC News
The Northern Territory head of fisheries has said the Top End’s fishing industry could be substantially expanded as part of plans to develop Northern Australia.
The Federal Government’s joint parliamentary committee into the development of Northern Australia is holding hearings in the Territory this week, with stakeholders giving evidence on what they would like to see happen.
Ian Curnow, the director of fisheries in the Northern Territory’s Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (DPIF), has told the ABC the fisheries industry could double in production capacity, with most fisheries underutilised in the Northern Territory.
He says barramundi is fished at 5 per cent of virgin biomass, but could be sustainably extended to 20 per cent.
Mr Curnow says shark is also bucking a worldwide trend by being under-fished.
“We’re very fortunate in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“It’s probably the only place in Australia where there’s room to grow fisheries, rather than they’re fished at their maximum level or overfished.”
Mr Curnow says government needs to implement the right management framework and assist in breaking down development barriers.
He says a port at Nhulunbuy, also known as Gove, would enhance commercial fishing operations and help develop the north.
“The fact Darwin is the only key fishing port at the moment,” he said.
“We’re certainly looking at opportunities to open up Gove as an alternative.
“That would then allow boats over there to offload product over there rather than shipping back to Darwin each trip.”
He says high fuel costs and worker shortages also need to be addressed.
“There some of the issues we’re taking up to the northern white paper development process – looking at better port facilities, better air facilities, possible facilities in Nhulunbuy, to look at how we can get that product out more quickly, particularly for a fresh fish on ice product,” he said.
Courtesy of ABC News