Queensland Senator Ron Boswell today urged Australians to send a strong message to Tony Burke regarding the Government’s intention to declare over Australia the world’s largest network of marine parks.
“If this plan proceeds, Australia will lead the world with 31 per cent of the world’s marine estate in Australian waters, and with the final consultation process reduced to just a tick and flick exercise by the Environment Minister there is much at stake,” Senator Boswell said.
“The sham consultation period closes on September 10 and Tony Burke has warned that he will not make any changes to the final maps. He has reduced the 60 day consultation process to one question: ‘Do we go ahead with the most comprehensive marine park network in the world or do we not?’”
The answer is “not” and Australians must make their voices heard.
The facts are the latest marine parks will bring the total network of marine reserves up to 3.1 million square kilometres. They will decimate the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, allied marine industries, tourism and coastal communities.
This policy has been driven by a coalition of green groups and financed by the American PEW Foundation.
PEW recently admitted that while it had called on the Australian Government to ban fishers from vast areas of the Coral Sea, it would not pursue a similar lockout of the Gulf of Mexico as it would disadvantage local fishermen and hurt the U.S. economy. According to PEW, it is only their home country that should be spared the economic impact of marine parks.
This is not about marine protection. Australia has a proud record of sustainable fishing practices. We extract less than 30 kilograms of marine catch per square kilometre compared to Thailand who extract almost 6000 kilograms of marine catch from their oceans.
We currently import 72 per cent of our seafood from overseas from countries with a less than enviable environmental record.
The impact will be greatest in Queensland with the Coral Sea marine park covering over 989,842 square kilometres, an area that is more than half the size of Queensland.
There is no legislative requirement to debate this policy in Parliament. It will have massive ramifications and no environmental outcomes.
Once the consultation period is closed, the Minister will receive a report from the Director of National Parks and from there a decision will be made whether to declare the final marine parks before the end of 2012.
The Government has misrepresented from the outset the true cost of this policy and has flagged that it will cost $100 million to compensate what they estimate to be 186 fishing-related businesses.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park compensation blew out to $230 million and the true financial impact was not known for some years after the declaration of the marine park.
Tony Burke has also provided no details on how the Government intends to manage and patrol 3.1 million square kilometres of marine reserves.
The failure of the Gillard Government to stop the flow of thousands of refugees in recent months is a sign of things to come.
Australians must send a resounding message to Tony Burke that we have a right to fish in our waters and to eat Australian seafood.