Have your say: Goodbye Coral Sea

By: Rick Huckstepp

The recent announcement by the Federal Government of a Conservation Zone for the Coral Sea has recreational fishos concerned that it will become a no-take marine park

Have your say: Goodbye Coral Sea
Goodbye Coral Sea
Back to Basics with Rick Huckstepp

I made brief mention in last month’s TrailerBoat (#246) about the Coral Sea. This expanse of water sits off the northeast coast of Australia and its boundaries are the Queensland coastline to the west, the southern extremities of the Solomon Islands to the north, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the east, and the Tasman Sea to the south.

It is best remembered for the battle named after it during World War II between May 4 and 8, 1942. And it may soon be remembered for the fact that it is the biggest no-take Marine Park in the world.

Here’s some background on the more environmentalist religion which apppears set to further decimate your rights to fish and boat.


The Pew Foundation is an American environmental group which has a huge war chest of seemingly endless funds that it uses to stop fishing wherever possible. It is funded in part by Sunoco Inc, a giant in that industry owned by the Pew family trust.

The Foundation funds research by individuals and organisations that are supportive of their aims. Unfortunately, this style of research by purported scientists corrupts scientific endeavour due to the fact that it is not independently peer reviewed. So one must ask, at what point does an individual cease to be a factual scientist, rolling over to a science-based activist’s role of the type that feed our State and Federal Governments copious amounts of environmental religion to the detriment of the majority?

Pew have been hard at it, lobbying the Federal Government and no doubt the Queensland Government to have the area of the Coral Sea bounded by Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) declared a total no-take marine park. They have sought to have a ministerial decision made on this without any commitment to inform us, the public, so healthy and democratic consultation and debate may be undertaken. In fact, Pew has for the last two years been working secretly on this with the Feds and has had four fulltime lobbyists working in Canberra on the case. One must then ask, why has the Government not made this public knowledge?

Aaaah! I can feel a green preferential vote thing happening here!

So Pew put their submission to our Government; all 39 odd pages of it with warm and fuzzy images of turtles and sharks, coral and sandy beaches. There must have been a scurry among scientific activists who purport to be scientists, to get their name adorned on this glossy document that between the front and back cover contains not one, that’s right, not one scientific fact!

Yet those that lined up to be named have Dr, Prof and other letters shouldering up their names. They should be ashamed that they have become so unscientific due to their political environmental religious zeal.


You can see a copy of this submission on the web (visit www.globaloceanlegacy.org/resources/CoralSea_Web_100808.pdf) but in case you can’t access it or don’t have enough ‘uppers’ to get you through the boring diatribe that purports to be a science, here are a few of the just many, emotional, non-factual statements from people who should know better.

On page 20 you’ll read: "The extensive seamount systems of the Coral Sea are iconic features that are certain to be hotspots of animal biodiversity with unknown levels of endemism (peculiarity to locales)." CERTAIN? UNKNOWN LEVELS OF ENDEMISM? What is this, a guessing game? Obviously no one has been under the surface at these seamounts to check them out scientifically.

Also quoting from page 20: "… large quantities of jewel quality black corals probably occur on these seamounts." PROBABLY? Who are they kidding?

And here’s another passage on page 23: "Little is known about the abyssal region of the Coral Sea but the biodiversity is likely to be directly comparable to the findings of other deep sea ecosystems." LIKELY? They are joking aren’t they? These are purported scientists that are supposed to deal with hard facts and they are guessing their way through this entire submission.

In relation to the charter industry on page 32, the submission states: "Public information on recreational fishing in the Coral Sea is relatively poor, however, it is recognised that the recreational fishing opportunities are very limited." This is one statement I have to agree with so why declare it a no-take marine park? Then there is this astounding statement on the same page: "The entire Queensland charter fishing industry is largely focused on the southern part of Queensland? What a lie.

It goes on to say: "A small structural adjustment package would be required to buy out all effort in the Coral Sea Fishery." The authors of this statement obviously haven’t found out how much the Great Barrier Reef restructuring package cost, with the Federal Government paying out upwards of $450 million. That is a drop in the ocean com-pared with a Coral Sea buy out!

So you can expect much talk about Environmental Impact Statements as this submission gets thrashed around various Government departments, but please note one thing about environmental impact statements: Rarely are human beings, their needs and rights taken into account when looking at the various aspects of any issue which is the subject of an environmental impact statement and in the final decision, that ultimately affects the most important form of life on this planet. You!

A good deal of ink is devoted to the nostalgia of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The submission moots this slice of our history as the reason for us to stop fishing altogether, in this vast remote tract of water. What they fail to include is the fact that 90 per cent of the Battle of the Coral Sea was fought outside of the proposed boundaries of the proposed marine park. How convenient of them to forget such a factual issue!

Now this may seem to some an unimportant facet of the Pew campaign, but Prime Minister Rudd doesn’t think so. At the back of the submission he has put his name on Federal Government letterhead in a

letter of support to the importance of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Excuse me, can someone tell me why an Australian Prime Minister has put his name and our Government letterhead into such a shallow submission by an American lobby group intent on closing up Australian waters to Australians forever? Yes, I can smell a rat too and it has the slight scent of Midnight Oil to it with a tinge of green from more preferential votes.


• No fish in the Coral Sea is endangered;

• The Coral Sea is in pristine condition and the Australian Government already controls activity in the proposed area due to the Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ) and in some parts off Cairns, out to 650km offshore;

• Only one per cent of America’s continental waters are protected, only one per cent of the world’s oceans are protected, and 50 per cent of the world’s protected oceans are in Australian waters!

• Australia imports 70 per cent of it seafood ($2 billion annually) and exports the same value in coal to pay for the seafood. Wouldn’t it be good if we harvested our own seafood, then we wouldn’t need to sell the coal, hence we would have so many carbon credits up our sleeve we would not force industry offshore under the proposed Emission Trading Scheme, the costs of which look set to cripple this country even further and bring it to its knees for decades to come;

• The cost to run the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) is $40 million annually. An estimate of $100 million has been touted as being the annual running cost of a Coral Sea Heritage Marine Park;

• Pew has not kicked the tin to fund any of this; rather, they think it a good idea that the GBRMP Authority and our navy should police it at our expense. Sadly, the GBRMPA can’t look after what they have in their charge now and continue to fail to halt incursions into the Park on a regular basis. We can’t even find illegal immigrants on our coastal islands even when we know they are there somewhere; and,

• Here is the ball cruncher. Australia is signatory to the Law of the Sea Treaty and under this international convention, if we fail to utilise the EEZ resources fully, other countries may successfully tender to take custody of them.


It is debatable that proclaiming an area the size of the proposed park into a no-take marine park constitutes ‘utilisation’. Therefore we could well have Spanish purse seine fishing fleets within three nautical miles of our Queensland coast along with fleets from New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, who will all be laughing all the way to the bank, and what were our resources would be raped to the point of extinction.

And should this unimaginable situation occur, you can bet Pew won’t be seen for proverbial dust because those countries, like America, just won’t be the soft touch that our Governments are.

Can I just add a quote from Dr Walter Starck, an eminent and independent marine biologist: "One of the most useful things we can learn from history is that most people most of the time are wrong. Much of what is accepted as truth at any time later proves to have been at least partially if not wholly untrue. The current recession continues to make fools of financial experts while global cooling does the same for climatologists. Meanwhile, our political leaders provide convincing daily demonstrations of their cluelessness. We must make our own decisions. We can’t rely on anyone else."

And on that note I will go and slash my wrists, but wait, there is hope! We may go to the polls before Christmas after a double dissolution of Parliament. If ever there was a time to turn this entire circus around it is that moment when you open your fingers and drop the voting slip into the ballot box — whenever that might be. Your call.


The Federal Government has jumped the gun and declared a Coral Sea Conservation Zone so that it can control commercial activities in that area. Charter operators will now need a permit from Peter Garrett’s office and permits are not transferable on the sale of that business. Don’t you just love this? Now, the value of any charter operation in the Coral Sea is dependent on those operators towing the line with future Government policy; however bad and perverted it may be!


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