SUNDAY’S Blessing of the Fleet festival is much more than simply another opportunity to celebrate and attract tourists to the region.
It is also an opportunity to look back at the important role the commercial fishing industry, and particularly the mainly Italian families to build up the industry several decades ago, has played in providing the region with a sound economic base.
The economic base provided by fishing and farming, and the year-round jobs they have funded, have been integral to the region’s economic survival, allowing for the growth that tourism has been able to provide in more recent times.
That the commercial fishing industry has been largely forced out of existence by government regulation is a source of continued concern and debate, particularly as so much of the nation’s seafood is now imported from areas which are far less clean and environmentally sensitive than Australia’s fisheries.
However it seems there is a new sense of optimism for the commercial fishing industry.
Experienced commercial fisherman Dick Perese speaks with great enthusiasm about a new approach from government and the bureaucrats providing advice to politicians.
While some within the local commercial fishing sector do not share Mr Perese’s optimism, his approach is infectious and his vision presents great possibilities should there eventually oweverHbe some official acknowledgement about the sustainability of Australia’s fishing sector.
That would also be vital for the Ulladulla region’s economy, and provide hope of rebuilding the commercial fishing fleet operating in the area.
Until then, the Blessing of the Fleet provides a timely reminder about how commercial fishing helped shape the region, and provided traditions that continue to be followed.
Editorial by Glenn Ellard
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