Coalition pledges marine parks freeze

Recreational marine industry bodies welcome announcement

Coalition leader Tony Abbott announced last week that, if elected Prime Minister, he would place a freeze on the gazetting of any new Australian marine parks.

The issue of marine parks has been a contentious issue in recent years, with the gazetting of large tracts of Australian waters in some cases having considerable impact on commercial and recreational fishing and boating in affected regions. Upon making the announcement on a visit to the Queensland city of Mackay on Tuesday, July 27, Abbott said the marine parks initiative, which was ushered in by the Howard government, had gone off course under Labor.

"Man and nature have to live together," said Abbott. "It’s very important that we don’t do anything as a government that unreasonably threatens the livelihood of fishing industries and the tourism industries upon which so much of Australia depends," he added.

The announcement was welcomed by recreational marine industry body, Marine Queensland. The body’s CEO, Don Jones, said it was vital the marine parks issue was urgently addressed. "The four key planks announce by the Coalition will reinstate a balanced and sensible approach to establishing truly meaningful environmental protection measures while at the same time minimising economic and social impact to the industries and communities that rely on access to these waters," he said.

However, while speaking with, a spokesperson for the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, said the announcement was simply scaremongering, and an attempt to confuse the marine parks issue. "The trick here from Mr Abbott is that he has suspended a process started under Mr Howard without saying what his alternative process will be if he were to win Government," the spokesperson said. "The Government is committed to a process which gets the balance right to ensure the fishing industry can stay sustainable into the future while at the same time protecting our unique marine environment," they added.

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