DPI gets a tongue lashing from Constance over Merimbula netting proposal

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, centre, receives petitions against netting in Merimbula's Top Lake from Merimbula Big Game and Lakes Angling Club members, David Dulhunty, left and Chris Young.

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, centre, receives petitions against netting in Merimbula's Top Lake from Merimbula Big Game and Lakes Angling Club members, David Dulhunty, left and Chris Young.

NSW Treasurer and member for Bega Andrew Constance has called the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) proposals for netting in Merimbula’s Top Lake “ludicrous and clumsy” and said: “I am dead set against this. I raised this with the Minister (Katrina Hodgkinson, Minister of Primary Industries) yesterday (Thursday, May 8).”

"I want this killed." - NSW Treasurer and member for Bega, Andrew Constance

It is understood that Mr Constance is particularly angry about the way the proposals were slid out under the radar and not communicated to his office even though it could have a serious impact on a large section of his electorate.

 “There has been a lack of foresight into how the community would react. This is ludicrous and clumsy and I want this killed. For Merimbula Lake it needs to be ruled out straightaway,” Mr Constance said.

He was in Merimbula to speak with protesters of the netting proposals, and will be returning to Parliament with around 2500 signatures from locals and visitors to present to Ms Hodgkinson. He said: “The community has been highly agitated by the DPI’s action. This is where the community is most exercised. This is a proposal but let’s keep the pressure on. I am very unhappy with the way this process has rolled out. The DPI needs to be put on notice.”

There are believed to be about 40 commercial fishing licences along the coast between the border and Batemans Bay but at a meeting on Thursday, May 8 between commercial fishermen and the fisheries officials at Eden it was clear that the commercial fishermen are not happy either.

Mr Constance said: “There has to be a balance struck but the bottom line is no one wants to see netting in Merimbula Lake. The DPI has stirred every one up unnecessarily.”

It is believed that NPWS is also annoyed about the proposals which include Bournda Lagoon and Natalie Godward , president of the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce said that the subject “was on everyone’s lips” at the recent meeting of the Far South Coast Chambers of Commerce.

The deadline for submissions to the DPI has been extended from May 19 to May 30 and Mrs Godward said that the Merimbula chamber would be making a submission. The matter will also be discussed at the Merimbula Tourism open meeting at the Lakeview Hotel, May 27, 6.30pm.

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