The proposed referral of the Marine Bioregional Plan to the Rural and Regional Affairs Senate Committee has been put on the Senate notice paper, but the final vote will be delayed until a later date, Senator Boswell said today.
He said that neither Labor nor the Greens were prepared to support the Marine Bioregional Plan’s referral to the Senate Committee. He stated that the referral would have been defeated if the vote had taken place today.
“This referral is so important for both recreational and professional fisherman that the organisations representing them should have the opportunity to tell the Minister and their local members that they want a Senate inquiry. An inquiry would allow them to express their concerns and receive more information from bureaucrats and the Government,” Senator Boswell said.
He said a Senate inquiry was vital because there is no legislation required to declare the marine bioregional parks, which can be finalised with the stroke of a pen. He highlighted the effects of the Marine Bioregional Plan, which would completely ban trawling, displace fishing boats and trawlers, and result in a buy-out of licences and boats.
“Fishermen, both recreational and professional, have been left in the dark. Because no legislation is needed to declare the marine parks, there is no Committee stage on a bill during which information would be made available to the public.
“It is vital that fishers everywhere push the Government for a Senate inquiry to go ahead. The Senate Committee is the only option that will allow them to delve into the impact and consequences of the marine bioregions that encompass Australia, and take up 1.4 million square kilometres and 24% of the world’s total marine protected estate.
“By refusing to support a Senate inquiry into the marine bioregions, any promise of an open and transparent government has been thrown aside. If they had nothing to hide, they would be out there supporting a Senate inquiry.”
Senator Boswell said that by delaying the vote, it would give fishermen and the industry an opportunity to voice their concerns about the marine parks.
“I have been advised that, following the release of the final marine reserve network for each region, under national environmental law, the public will be invited to provide input to a process to establish the proposed networks of new Commonwealth marine reserves.
“This process will include formal statutory consultation of at least 60 days. Stakeholder feedback received during this consultation period will be considered before the Government proclaims the marine reserve networks and before they take effect.”
He said that because of the advice he received that a final declaration of the marine reserve network could not be made until after a 60 day period, delaying the vote would improve the chances of a successful referral at a later date.
“Delaying the vote gives those concerned about the Marine Bioregional Plan more time to push for this Senate inquiry to happen. It gives fishermen more opportunity to put pressure on the Government to agree to a Senate inquiry that will tell them what they need to know about how exactly the marine parks will affect them.”
He stressed that fishermen, particularly recreational fishermen who will be affected by no-take green fishing zones, should contact members and Minister Burke with their demand for a Senate inquiry, in order to give the referral of the Marine Bioregional Plan the best possible chance of being approved in the future.