Senator for Queensland, Ron Boswell, today expressed disappointment that the Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has decided to ignore the Australian fishing and marine industries so that he and the Prime Minister can grandstand at the Rio+20 conference with his plans for the world’s largest network of marine parks.
Burke might get some accolades in Rio but he certainly won’t be getting any accolades in Australia.
He will be leaving a devastated commercial fishing industry, charter boat industry and 5 million recreational fishermen in his wake.
Has Tony Burke learnt nothing from the Queensland state election?
If these marine parks proceed the financial fallout will be widespread and will not only affect commercial and recreational fishermen, but the charter boat industry, tourism and on shore businesses like processors and bait and tackle shops.
Burke has gone further in the Coral Sea than the original map and has locked the charter and game boats out of Osprey, Marion, Bougainville, Vema and Shark Reefs. This is a major blow to the Cairns economy already struggling under the weight of a high Australian dollar and a weak tourism market.
Now that the maps are out, he needs to answer how fishing and related industries will be compensated and what provision will be made in the budget to cover the costs.
The Government must provide a full socio-economic analysis of each of the marine parks and determine how many boats will need to be adjusted before any declarations can be made.
It cost $230 million to adjust the fishing and associated industries in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and this is a much larger area. I hope Mr Burke has deep pockets.
I have asked these questions in the Parliament only to be told that the information would not be available until the maps are released.
Now the maps are out, he must tell us how these marine parks will be managed and who will be responsible for policing 3.1 square million kilometres of marine reserves.
While the Coral Sea marine park will be the death knell of all long-line tuna fishing in Queensland, it will provide a fattening paddock to our northern neighbours. It will be an invitation to overseas boats to take 750,000 tonnes of tuna on the other side of the boundary.
In Senate Estimates, I attempted to seek answers on what percentage of the world’s marine estate would lie in Australian waters. No answer was forthcoming as the reality is our commitment will bring Australia’s share to anywhere between 50 and 70 percent of the world’s marine parks.
Tony Burke today asked the rhetorical question: "Should we proceed with these marine parks or not?" He should ask his Labor colleagues in marginal seats.