The announcement by Bob Brown that the Greens will seek massive fishing closures in the Coral Sea off Rockhampton has compounded the already major threat to fishers posed by Labor’s approach to marine parks policy, LNP Capricornia candidate Michelle Landry and Senator Ron Boswell said today.
Senator Boswell said the Greens want closures covering up to 30% of Australia’s territorial waters. That would equate to an area the size of Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania combined.
With the Greens virtually guaranteed control of the Senate after a recent preference deal with Labor, Ms Landry said big fishing closures now seemed a certainty – if Labor wins the August 21 election.
“Labor’s Environment Minister Peter Garrett went fishing for Green preferences using fishermen as bait, showing a clear green bias in his handling of Labor’s plan for marine parks,” Senator Boswell said.
“That earned massive distrust of his motives and intent, compounded by his failure to properly consult.
“Now Labor has got the Green support it was chasing, Bob Brown will be able to name his price, and his price, as far as fishermen are concerned, will obviously be very high indeed.”
Ms Landry said closures of 30% of marine parks, let alone of Australia’s territorial waters, would decimate Australian professional fishing industry and massively reduce opportunities for recreational fishers.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott launched the Coalition’s Marine Protected Areas policy in Mackay last week.
He promised an immediate halt to Labor’s marine park plans pending restructuring of the consultation process to ensure a bigger say for fishers.
Ms Landry said the choice for voters who fish was never more stark.
“A vote for Labor is a vote for the Labor/Green alliance, and a vote for vast fishing closures,” she said.
“A vote for the Coalition is a vote to bring some sanity and fairness back into the process, while still providing strong protection for the marine environment.
“We need to bring some balance and fairness back to the process.”