Compo for Fishermen over LNG Blunder
By Emma Pearson
A group of Australian fishermen are attempting to sue the government for $20 million after claiming that dredging for LNG plants has poisoned the harbour’s fish.
Their law firm filed the compensation claim for loss of income on January 30, on behalf of 60 Gladstone Fishermen who alleged that dredging poisoned the fish and left them without work.
The harbour was being dredged to allow tankers to access three huge $15 billion plants being built at the north side of the harbour, which will convert coal-seam gas into liquefied natural gas for export.
The claim was filed on a condition of the LNG plant approvals, which was granted two years ago by the Queensland government’s Co-Ordinator General, which stated that compensation must be awarded to any fishermen who lost income because of the project.
A panel was set up last year to decide on a compensation figure to be paid to the fishermen based on loss of amenity because of the work.
The final meeting of the committee is due to be held on February 2 and is expected to be offered at just under $9 million.
However the committee pre dates the claims of the poisoned fish which have shown up in recent months and it is expected that there will be massive disputes over the offer.
The government and Gladstone Ports Corporation have argued that the poisoning was caused by an influx of fresh water fish into the salty waters of the harbour following last January’s floods and reject claims that the dredging is to blame.
Lawyer Rebecca Jancauskas said that the fishermen needed certainty, and if it was established that some sea fishing operations were completely ruined and the businesses could not continue, the compensation bill could be substantial.
Premier Anna Bligh said the government was negotiating compensation with businesses through a steering committee and fishermen were entitled to compensation for restrictions to fishing zones.
She said: “If they want to take it outside negotiations and into courts, it doesn’t change the fact that we are required to compensate them for any loss.”
“We will potentially be doing so, but we will look at not only protecting the fishermen but also the taxpayer so we get a fair deal for everybody.”
Category: Recent Articles