NEWS - Coral Sea Marine Park update


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Recreational boating and fishing groups voice concerns.

NEWS - Coral Sea Marine Park update
NEWS - Coral Sea Marine Park update

Marine Queensland says it led discussions on behalf of AMIF (Australian Marine Industries Federation) with key government representatives in Canberra last week to further develop plans associated with the Coral Sea Heritage Marine Park and the Eastern Bio-region.

The marine industry is seeking to secure the best result possible for the Coral Sea and Eastern Bio-Region, said the marine recreational and light commercial state-representative body.

"It appears that the declaration of the Coral Sea as a conservation zone is politically motivated andp aimed at environmental fundamentalism as opposed to being based on sound environmental management practice" said Don Jones, general manager Marine Queensland.

The current proposal developed by the Government will not effectively address the environmental issues that have been raised, said Marine Queensland, and that the allocation of exclusion zones has been presented as the only intervention method. The industry, however, feels that this is an extremely narrow-minded solution, it said.

"Exclusion is a two-dimensional solution to a three-dimensional problem," Jones said.

Marine Queensland said expectations are that hundreds of jobs will be lost and communities relying upon marine-based business will greatly suffer as a result of the closure.

"The process that is in train has little or no regard for the sustainability of the industry and the many communities that rely on the marine industry for their livelihoods," said Jones.

According to the organisation, the marine industry has developed a plan which it believes will deliver better outcomes for the environment, encompassing the protection of important habitats as well as the diverse species of marine life and eco-systems.

"Central to the industry-developed plan is the co-management of the unique Coral Sea environments between government, local communities and industry," Jones said.

"The ongoing sustainability of the Coral Sea relies on tapping into vast amount of knowledge and expertise that resides in our industry and applying this knowledge with appropriate management practices to ensure that real outcomes are achieved for the environment, local communities and industry," he said.

On behalf of the Marine Industry, Marine Queensland said it is calling on Government to engage with the industry and regional communities to develop truly sustainable management practices for these unique environments.

For more information, visit www.marineqld.com.au

Meanwhile, Recfish Australia, the peak body for Australia’s more than 3 million recreational fishers, believes that the sector has no choice but to take its concerns to parliament. The organisation said the motion by Senator Boswell to have the declaration of the Coral Sea Conservation Zone disallowed reflects the frustration that fishers are feeling about their inability to engage in marine park planning processes.

Recfish Australia said its policy on marine protected areas states that any declaration of no-fishing zones must be risk based and have sound, peer-reviewed scientific evidence demonstrating the impact of recreational fishers.

Recfish Australia continued that it is opposed to a Coral Sea Heritage Park that would lock all fishers out of the Coral Sea as proposed by the Pew Environment Group and other organisations.

"There is no logic or science behind the proposal. It is based on a fundamental opposition to all forms of fishing and we cannot allow such patent environmental extremism to go unchallenged." said Len Olyott, CEO of Recfish Australia.

Marine reserves that include sanctuary areas to lock out "extractive users" such as recreational fishers are habitually used as a method to protect biodiversity both in Australia and elsewhere, said Recfish. Australia, it said, is signatory to an international agreement to have a representative system of marine protected areas in place by 2012, and that Australia already has a staggering 68 million hectares in marine reserves where recreational fishers are already banned from large sections of these areas.

Recfish said Australian fisheries are incredibly well managed and over half of the fish caught by recreational fishers are released alive. Many species are tagged and recreational fishers contribute significantly to the scientific research of iconic species such as marlin and tuna, it said.

According to the group, recreational fishing is a significant component of the economies of regional centres and estimates of expenditure range between 1 and 2 billion dollars.

Recfish said recreational fishing is a healthy, active, outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy and is an integral part of Australian culture, with more than a quarter of all Australians fishing at least once a year — that translates into a lot of votes.

"Anti-fishing extremists use any mechanism at their disposal to turn the public and politicians against recreational fishers and it’s time that recreational fishers did the same," said Olyott. "If we cannot have our voice heard in the consultation process we must resort to the political process and let our elected representatives lobby on our behalf."


 


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