The Government’s decision to release the proposed maps of the million square kilometre Coral Sea Marine Reserve was a great victory for the American environmental group, PEW foundation, and their public relations tactics. But it has been a huge loss to the Australian fishing charter boat industry and will have an effect on recreational fishing, Queensland Senator Ron Boswell said today.
“Charter boats, trawlers, fishermen, are going to bare a very heavy cost for the government and the 'green movements' decision. And the processors, slip ways, refrigeration operations industry and all other supporting industries, are going to take a huge hit."
“There is a thirty boat, charter industry that operates out of Cairns. It pumps about sixty million dollars into the local economy every year. It brings wealthy international travellers in to enjoy the North Queensland Marlin fishery. It is tag and release fishing, and is one of the most sustainable in the world," Senator Boswell said.
“The charter boats, and the small number of fisherman, will be excluded from the massive green zone."
Both the Greens and the Minister recognise that the Coral Sea is in a pristine condition. This is due to the charter boats and fishermen whom fish in the green zone and monitor any illegal fishing methods, such as drift nets, super seiners, and long liners mass destructive methods, and report any illegal fishing in the area. They also monitor catches and pass that information on to government.
Senator Boswell also said that, “this decision will leave the Coral Sea with no monitoring, there be no observation of illegal fishing, and if the Coral Sea is in pristine condition, the Greens can thank the charter boat and fishermen who work the area for keeping it so."
“There will be no activity out there in the Coral Sea to observe, it will be an open invite to illegal fishing in the Coral Sea."
“Trawlers will also be completely excluded from the marine park. Forty deep sea trawlers that work in the southern end of the marine park, and a hundred other east coast licences that work on an irregular basis will be excluded."
There will have to be a reduction of effort in the remaining areas that are left to fish, so that these excluded boats will have somewhere to go. Compensation will have to be paid to fishermen who will no longer be allowed to fish in the green zone. There will have to be a buy back of trawlers and licences as these fishermen will be forced to exit the industry.
“The Government promised a scientific assessment process? We need to see the science, where is it?"
“The Coral Sea proposed bio-region plan, completes the entire encirclement of Australia, with marine parks. The Government has pretty coloured maps encircling Australia, in Green, Light Blue and Blue, these maps may appease the green movement, but now the hard work starts," Senator Boswell said.
“Before any reserve is declared the government must bring forward a management plan, and an economic social impact statement, that covers the area from the Coral Sea, to the north, north- west, south- west, and the eastern marine parks".
“How much is it going to cost to police, monitor, and administer this vast area?"
"What is the compensation that will be paid to the displaced fishing industry?"
Senator Boswell said that, "a compensation figure of $230 million, had to be found for the Great Barrier Reef marine park buy out. That was a much smaller area than the proposed bio-regional marine parks around Australia."
“Both the Minister for Fishing and the Minister for the Environment have to come up with a very substantial figure to compensate fisherman that will have to be bought out after being displaced. Shore based industries like processing will have to be compensated as well."
“Until these figures are made public, the government must not declare any bio–region unless the plans are down, impact studies in place, and the combined costs agreed to by the government. If this is not done then no bio-region should be declared," Senator Boswell said.