Greens Leader Bob Brown’s announcement today that he would seek a 100% ban on fishing across nearly one million square kilometres of the Coral Sea was another warning bell for the future of recreational and commercial fishing right around Australia, Senator Ron Boswell said today.
Senator Boswell said Mr Brown had previously announced that the Greens would seek fishing bans across at least 30% of the vast network of marine reserves now being planned around the country.
Carefully chosen closures on anything like that scale would be sufficient to virtually end commercial fishing in Australian waters, and drastically reduce recreational fishing opportunities.
Senator Boswell said the potential for the Greens to achieve a major part of their goals was high if Labor won the federal election on August 21.
“The preference deal recently done between Labor and the Greens virtually assures the Greens the balance of power in the Senate from mid next year,” Senator Boswell said.
“The preference deal was cemented after Environment Minister Peter Garrett went angling for Green preferences using fishermen as bait. He has been pandering to extreme Green sentiment on marine issues, especially in relation to the Coral Sea, for over a year.”
Mr Garrett has conceded that two environmental groups – the U.S. based PEW Foundation and the Australian Conservation Foundation – were the only stakeholders consulted last year before Mr Garrett provided the entire Coral Sea with interim protection using the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Ocean acidification was the only threat that he specifically identified to justify use of the Act’s interim protection regime. This year he declared the entire zone an area of great interest for longer term protection.
“The Green groups that back the Greens party have now got everything they wanted from Peter Garrett on the Coral Sea, and they will now no doubt seek big closures across the entire marine park network.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has unveiled a Coalition Marine Protected Areas policy that would call a halt to Labor’s processes in order to reinstate wider stakeholder consultation and to ensure science based decisions in the development of marine reserves.