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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

‘Vision’ for Bruns fish co-op begins to emerge

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Fisherman’s Co-op William Silverman and his team addressed the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce on the evening of Tuesday July 18, putting forward their ‘vision’ for the future of the site.

Silverman said that he ‘wanted to be part of the community’, stating that he wanted to bring Brunswick back to being a fishing town with a coordinated marina with seafood.

To achieve his vision Silverman said he would need a minimum of 200 tonne a year of seafood to be brought in through the Brunswick port to make a profit. Before the recent closure they handled 30 tonne a year through the shop.

Boutique seafood

‘Brunswick Heads has the finest seafood – it is becoming a delicacy,’ said Silverman.

‘Trawlers are not the way fisheries work any more.’

Silverman sees the future of fishing as being in ‘artisan’ or ‘recreational’ fisher folk who would bring in the minimum 200 tonne a year he says he needs to make the operation viable. He said they would be bringing in the likes of snapper and spanner crab.

‘In five years the price will have doubled,’ he said. ‘We would like a working port.’

According to the figures Silverman presented, northern NSW has a $6.3m fishing industry and he would like to see ten per cent of that coming through the Brunswick fish co-op.

Currently the one trawler that braves the dangerous Brunswick bar brings in between five and ten tonnes a year and a local fisherman told The Echo that it is not only the bar but the rocks and wreckage that make this such a dangerous crossing.

‘We want the government to do the infrastructure. Crown Lands should repair everything,’ said Silverman as he expanded on his ideas for the site to The Echo.

As part of this he sees the repair of the old slipway that was condemned ten to fifteen years ago coupled with the installation of a crane.

‘The government needs to sort out the parking,’ he continued.

50 to 60 car parks

‘They need to supply 50 to 60 car parks for cars with trailers for boats’ for the recreational fisher folk who will be bringing in the seafood to be processed through the Brunswick co-op.

The Brunswick fish co-op, which Silverman bought 16 months ago, was recently closed, with staff being given two weeks’ notice in lieu.

‘We are taking the asbestos, etc out and taking it back to its bare bones to then see what we can put in there – vegetables, coffee – while we work out as a community what happens there. Please let us know what you want,’ Silverman wrapped up in his address to the Chamber.

The Echo contacted the NSW Department of Primary Industries for comment on some of the ideas put forward by Silverman but they were unable to respond by our deadline.

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  1. The day you allow recreational fishermen to sell their catch is the day sustainable fisheries management goes out the door. Make the commercial sector more viable and let the pros get on with it.

    • commercial fisherman pay thousands of dollars to bring seafood to the consumer.Recreational means just that they do it as a hobby how on earth will it be sustainable when the commercial sector caught 30 ton.That means he is saying the recreational sector would be catching 170 ton ..sustainable i do not think so

  2. Question deserving to Mr Silverman. Why does the government have to sort out car parking if it is to support a developer’s vision? The freehold land is 3,500sqm. A developer can expect to have the required car parking en site. Alternatively, developer contributions needs to be made to Council? As for using Crown Land as car parking to support a private business is pushing far to far and what precedent is that setting? I for one would consider it offensive to expect my land, your land, our public land to be given over to a developer.

    Car parking and trailer parking to access the boat ramp on the western side of the harbour is a completely different kettle of fish (no pun intended). That is a facilities owned by the public, for the public and indeed it is highly appropriate for my land, your land our public land to be used for parking to support that facility.

  3. And is Silverman going to pay the proper price for the fish etc they were turning commercial fishermen away who than had to sell their catch to Ballina etc because Silverman didn’t want to pay real prices which were NOT ridiculous prices. In my opinion he is just trying to get the local community on his side by making himself out to be someone that is all for doing what the community want when is is completely the opposite and people that have met with him or worked with or for him could tell you he is only in it all for him…

  4. The co op was very poorly run for the last 16 months… I’m a commercial fisherman in Brunswick Heads and I refused to sell any fishing to the co op. They would charge me 10% of my catch straight up then it was $10 for a bin of ice (usually free everywhere else) then there were holding fees for example out of $300 – I would be lucky to see $200 and that was too much with fuel and maintenance it wasn’t viable to sell to them. If they drop their fees and make it easier to access to all commercial fishers their yearly intake would double if not more .

  5. Mr Silverman

    The residents of this area have seen developers come and go, and you are not the first to pretend you are “acting on behalf of the community”.

    Why should we trust you? Why should we hand over some of our dwindling supplies of crown land? Why should resources be given to support your business? Why should further licenses be granted around a marine park to furnish you with your 200 tonnes of fish?

    Did you take care of your workers when you closed down? Did you support the commercial fishermen when you were open? Just what have you done for this community that you are apparently so enthusiastic about?

    There is a reason that people around here are cynical, because every week there is some operator claiming to be “sustainable” or “working for the community”, when it is just self-serving bollocks and empty words.


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