NEWS - Boswell warns fishermen to 'be alert' in bioregion talks

Marine industry must be involved in bio-regional planning process, says Senator

Speaking to fishermen on the Sunshine Coast today, The Nationals Senator Ron Boswell warned that those involved in the fishing industry should be alert to the Federal Government’s East Coast Marine Bioregional Planning process.

The East Marine Bio-region reportedly covers an area of 2.4km² and includes all Commonwealth waters from the eastern side of Cape York to just north of the NSW-Victoria border, excluding the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and also includes the waters around Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands.

"Meetings between stakeholders and Government on the Bioregion have already included discussions on compensation for activities displaced by the marine protected areas and as fishermen know too well, when compensation is discussed it means there will inevitably be closures," Boswell said.

"Stakeholder discussions have also revealed the potential for navigational closures, more green zones and the potential licensing of game fishing vessels.

"There are hundreds of businesses through the coastal communities of Queensland and NSW as far as Batemans Bay that are directly involved in fishing. Closures in the waters off Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone, Hervey Bay, Sunshine and the Gold Coasts, would have a direct effect on the viability of fishing businesses in these communities.

"Fishermen have to be aware that Federal Minister Peter Garrett has already shown that he is being influenced on fishing policy by environmental groups such as US-based extremist group PEW.

"As a direct result of PEW’s influence, we have recently seen Minister Garrett proclaim one-million square kilometres of the northern part of the planning area as the Coral Sea Heritage Park.
PEW’s stated goal for this park is that it should be a No-Fish area.

"The Amount of Gross Value Product generated directly from fishing, south of the Great Barrier Reef Marine park, is over $100million, with a flow-on effect to local economies of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The importance of fishing to regional economy cannot be understated and the industry must do all it can to counter the arguments of extremist environmental groups like PEW.

"In the balance between environmentalism and environmentally sustainable industry, the pendulum is starting to swing too far one way and food producing industries are suffering as a result.
The fishing industry has always tried to be responsible.
When issues of sustainability of fishing areas have been proved, the industry has always contracted its efforts.

"What will be the cost to the fishing industry if this proposal is adopted?
If we look at the historical cost of expanding green zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park we can recall that from the estimated $2million that the authority suggested, the compensation cost went to $255million.

"Unless the industry is involved heavily in the bio-regional planning process, the science of sustainability will be overlooked by the politics of environmental extremism," Boswell said.


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