Ulladulla fishermen could be forced to sell up or ship out if the Australian Federal Government proceeds with the establishment of a new marine reserve off the South Coast.

A 2474sqkm marine reserve is proposed for waters off the coast of Jervis Bay and Huskinsson currently used by fisheries and Defence training.

Fisherman Ross Pennisi said the marine reserve would leave local fishermen with little choice but to relocate their businesses.

”If they choose to close that area, the closest I can fish is 4 hours away,” he said.

”Any blokes who can move will have to. I can’t relocate because of family, so I’ll have no choice but to shut down.”

The 39-year-old has been fishing since he left school 24 years ago and operates two ocean-trap and line vessels out of the Ulladulla Fishing Co-op.

He said business had been dwindling over the past decades due to increasing restrictions, with a resultant fall in the number of boats and local jobs.

”I should have closed down in February,” he said.

”I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth, but I employ six people. That’s six families that I’m supporting … I’ve aged 50 years in the past three.”

Mr Pennisi said the increased restrictions had also led to high staff turnover as businesses struggled to produce enough catches to provide full-time positions.

”I’ve had 30 different crews this year,” he said.

”These boys work hard but they don’t even have the capacity to earn minimum wage.”

The proposal has also raised concerns among the Bermagui fishing community, which underwent major changes due to the establishment of the 85,000ha state Batemans Marine Park in 2006.

Managing director of the Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-op Rocky Lagana said compensation had ensured the local business community wasn’t disadvantaged by the change and the same assistance needed to be extended to Ulladulla fishermen.

”We’re not against marine protected areas but you’ve got to be careful that they don’t impact on the towns they’re located off,” he said.

2012. Fairfax Media