Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Gladstone Ports Corp should stick with coal, not seafood marketing

From Saturday's Queensland Telegraph. Would you be lining up to buy seafood caught in Gladstone Harbour at your nearest fish market, fish n chip shop or restaurant? Probably not unless you had been totally brainwashed.

By John Mikkelsen

A  LEADING  seafood wholesaler has reacted angrily to news of a Gladstone Seafood Promotional Fund established by the Ports Corporation, and a call for expressions of interest from industry representatives.

The GPC announced it would contribute $1.5 million to the fund as part of its
environmental and harbour health programs. This would  be administered by a committee independently chaired by Mr Peter Milne, who is also chairman of  Safe Food Production
Queensland, Animal Health Australia and is the previous president of the Cattle Council
of Australia.

But Gladstone Seafood Markets manager Simon Whittingham says the GPC should stick with coal, not seafood marketing.

He has had a long-running battle with Safe Food Production Queensland in an attempt to have local seafood officially declared fit for sale, rather than having the onus  placed on his own judgement. His business made the decision not to accept seafood from the original fishing closure area imposed in 2011 and had spent a considerable sum successfully advertising this policy.

“What the ---- do the GPC know about Seafood Marketing ? They are environmental vandals and to put it simply, they load coal!

“We will be submitting our advertising bills for reimbursement, which I think is fair and reasonable, “ Mr Whittingham told The Telegraph.

“Is this an admission that they have ruined the Gladstone Seafood Brand? I will be waiting for an invitation, I will not be showing any expressions of interest,” Mr Whittingham said.

He said he had contacted Mr Milne as the then chairman of the original steering committee when the government closed the Gladstone Harbour to all forms of fishing, expressing his concerns then about what impact the decision was going to have on the local seafood brand.

“I was then a committee member of the Queensland Seafood Marketers Association and also represented the marketing sector on the Queensland Fishing Advisory Committee, (but) I was advised by the then chair there was no room to facilitate me and my concerns,” Mr Whittingham said.

“ I had to make a decision based on a lot of doubt with regard to the water quality and the product harvested from that water. The condition of the product was not fit for purpose. It wasn’t then and it’s not now.

“ I want test results from 2011, I want Safe Food Production Queensland to release me of my responsibility, if there is nothing wrong, then state it. …We have had great feedback from our customers with regards to our decision making, we will not change our decision until there is a full clearance given with regard to the product’s purpose,” Mr Whittingham said.

According to the GPC, the new committee’s primary role would be to develop recommendations to its board for initiatives which would assist in restoration of the Gladstone seafood brand locally, nationally and internationally.

Mr Milne said he looked forward to working with the local seafood industry and the
Gladstone Ports Corporation.

“I welcome the establishment of the fund by GPC and look forward to the opportunity of
working towards getting the local seafood industry brand back on track,” he said.

Expressions of interest are now being sought from local commercial and recreational
fishermen and fish wholesalers to sit on the committee. which will also include
representatives from GPC, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited
(GAPDL) and Queensland Fisheries.

For more information and/or expressions of interest contact Gladstone Seafood
Promotion Fund Committee Chair Peter Milne on 0419 491 853 or via email 

This slatey bream (dusky morwong) with obvious disease marks was caught last Monday near the ocean spoil dumping grounds off Facing Island in the GBR World Heritage Area. This is a saltwater species found mainly in open waters near reefs and would not have been injured by the flood spill over Awoonga Dam or stress related to the flooding. Meanwhile dredging continued during the week after more heavy rain run-off and very muddy harbour.


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