Four South Coast fishermen say their respective businesses have been shipwrecked by newly-implemented state government regulations.
The men were aggrieved to see the former Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson running for Gilmore.
"As Minister she signed off on key recommendations giving the Department of Primary Industries unprecedented power to 'separate and redistribute' the wealth and equity of the NSW fishing industry," Shoalhaven fisherman Ed Lammerink said.
Ms Hodgkinson told the South Coast Register she played a role in discussions, but not in the implementation of the commercial fisheries reform.
"Reform was commenced by Minister Ian McDonald when the ALP was in government in NSW, I continued with the process of discussion with industry, I believe it was signed off by Minister Niall Blair," she said.
READ MORE: Meet the candidate, Katrina Hodgkinson
Ed and three of his friends Claude Zarella, Mark Henry and Mark Strutt each have heartbreaking stories to tell about the real effect of this reform.
"We were owners of totally active, functioning businesses," Shoalhaven fisherman Claude Zarella said.
"Families are being destroyed up and down the coast as a result of this reform.
"They're taking resources out of the hands of commercial fishers and putting them into the pockets of foreign investors."
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Claude was multi-endorsed, working on the Shoalhaven River and in and outside of Jervis Bay.
He says the reforms have crippled the operational capacity of his business.
"They took away 80 per cent of my business," Claude said.
"I bought back 10 per cent of it, I put my hand in my pocket to be able to do what I've always done.
"We have a seven-year-old child, thank goodness my missus is bringing in more than I am, otherwise our mortgage would have been maxed out."
Mark Henry from Old Erowal Bay does line fishing off the continental shelf.
"There are only a few people who do it," Mr Henry said.
"It's all sustainable. Ninety per cent of the fish I catch, I keep."
On May 1, new regulations were implemented and his business has become nonviable.
"They dropped the quota," he said.
He is now limited to catching and selling 438kg of fish (16kg of bass grouper, 55kg of bigeye perch, 162kg of blue eye trevalla, 23kg of gemfish, 13kg of hapuka and 169kg of ling).
At $14 per kg, he can take in a maximum of $4818 per year - nowhere near what it costs to run his business.
"I've never argued with my wife before," Mr Henry said.
"I'm in debt out of my eyeballs, it's put so much stress on my wife and on our relationship, we came close to getting a divorce."
Acting on advice from the Department of Primary Industries, South Coast live bait fisherman Mark Strutt spent $150,000 on shares to keep his business secure.
"I was told extra shares would keep me secure," he said.
"I bought them and they cut my business in half.
"I can't get live pipis and they've cut down my beachworms quota."
Ed Lammerink, a man in his late 50s from Bomaderry, walked into Centrelink for the first time last year.
It was a gut-wrenching day for Ed, who used to fish on the Shoalhaven River for 270 days per year.
Newly-imposed regulations limited him to a maximum of 75 days per year - he stopped fishing as he needs to work at least 140 days per year to cover business expenses.
Ed wrote a letter to the South Coast Register, to flag his concerns about Ms Hodgkinson with readers.
I've noticed Katrina Hodgkinson signs along some farm fences. This is the same woman who was a former fisheries minister in NSW. As Minister she signed off on key recommendations giving the Department of Primary Industries unprecedented power to 'separate and redistribute' the wealth and equity of the NSW fishing industry. She was warned but chose to ignore fishermens' concerns, pandering to DPI senior management. These people also successfully removed the property right component from all fishing businesses. This means that any entitlement attached to a fishing business or any government acquisition of the fishing area can be removed at any time...with no compensation payable. It gets worse. Fishers who were forced to enter the business adjustment programs 'Share Trade Market' still don't realise that their shares are only in perpetuity for a 10-year period. In 2024 these people will have to re-invest and buy their own businesses back once again. All of the above started on Katrina's watch. Indeed Katrina's legacy during her tenure as Fisheries Minister will not be remembered well by many fishing families along the NSW coast. Politicians who are submissive to higher bureaucracy within their portfolios are of no use to the people of industries which they are supposed to represent. At that time, South Coast fishermen were told by DPI that, "well it's diabolical for the active guys." North Coast fishermen were told by a fisheries manager, "We're gonna serve you a great shit sandwich." This is the time when NSW fishermen needed a strong, robust fisheries minister. Sadly we ended up with a DPI puppet.