New gillnet-free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria will destroy the fishing and tourism port of Karumba, according to local fisherman David Wren and Carpentaria Shire Council mayor Jack Bawden. The Queensland and Australian governments announced in June that they were committing more than $160 million to phase out gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef by mid-2027 to "transition to more sustainable fishing practices". A rally in Brisbane in August expressed its outrage at the decision, saying the impacts would reverberate up and down the Queensland coast, thanks to the knock-on effect the bans would cause, and condemning the lack of consultation. The Gulf's commercial fishing industry is in a similar state of shock since being issued with a map that lists more than half of the viable fishing area as off-limits from the end of March, 2024. The area already has numerous closed and restricted areas as well as extensive Commonwealth marine parks, national parks and special purpose zones, particularly surrounding Mornington Island. Speakers at the Brisbane rally said they'd become the governments' sacrificial lambs to appease UNESCO in advance of its decision on whether to declare the Great Barrier Reef as in danger. The report said gillnet fishing was harming the reef, and supported closures in the Gulf, saying many threatened species travelled between the east coast and the Gulf to breed. Mr Wren was scathing of the reasoning, saying sustainability was a trendy buzzword recently discovered by the Palaszczuk and Albanese governments but was something fishermen had been doing for generations. "My brother and I bought all the N9 licences and amalgamated them all," he said. "Now we've got three boats with 1800 metres of netting, and we handed in 19,000m of net. "Our catches are bigger every year, and they want to preach sustainability to us? "We don't even get a pat on the back." He said gillnetting didn't impact fishing in the Gulf in any way. "For whatever reason, the government wants to get rid of fishing," he said. "I've got seven boats and employ 60 people, and have a turnover of $60m a year - all that would be gone at the stroke of a pen." Carpentaria mayor Jack Bawden said the governments' plans would have serious consequences, saying Karumba would almost disappear and that would have a domino effect on Normanton. "More than fishermen will be hurt - it's all the support industries, freight companies, refrigerator mechanics, metal fabricators, fuel sales, groceries," he said. "Fishermen are looking at sustainability the whole time. "Commercial people started the restocking and hatchery plan years ago, and limited the number of licences. "They charged each other a levy to buy out another licence each year - they've been doing everything right." State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the new gillnet-free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria were committed to be implemented by March 31, 2024, as part of the announcement made in June 2023. "A discussion paper on proposed gillnet free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria is to be released for consultation to provide greater certainty for industry in the near future," he said. Cr Bawden said he'd spoken with the minister, who had given a verbal guarantee of more consultation, which he expected he would honour. Mr Wren was not as hopeful of any outcomes from consultation though, saying it was likely to be a 'tick and flick' exercise to say they'd done the right thing. In the meantime, the Wren Group facility, which unloads 2000 tonnes of prawns a year along with 10 tonne of fresh fish every week, bound for markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, is looking down the barrel of closure after three generations working as fishermen. "Where are we going to get the local caught seafood to put on everyone's plates at the 2032 Olympics," Mr Wren asked. "You can say from farming but they'll be pumped full of hormones. "There's no science here, it's 100 per cent political." Federal opposition spokesperson for Northern Australia Senator Susan McDonald reiterated her words of August, that Labor had shown it didn't care about people, only its "radical green agenda". Katter's Australian Party MPs named Mr Furner the Queensland Minister for "Anti-Fisheries" and suggested he stand aside for what they say are politically motivated efforts to shut down the state's commercial fishing sector. KAP leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the Future Fisheries Taskforce set up by the state government and formulated after the June joint announcement, had a role to develop industry assistance packages for those impacted by the gillnet ban along the east coast. "It appears there are no limits on what the taskforce can examine or policy it can direct," he said, noting that restrictions in the Gulf were never originally advertised as an issue it would examine. He said a request by an industry body for the taskforce's terms of reference was denied. "Now the government is claiming that the shutdown of commercial fishing in the Gulf through these new bans is necessary because the same protected animals who swim on the Great Barrier Reef could one day swim in the Gulf; it's a farce," he said. Mr Furner didn't respond to Queensland Country Life's questions regarding scientific evidence for the bans, or for evidence of consultation with those impacted, in making its decisions.