Speaking to fishermen on the Sunshine Coast today, The Nationals Senator Ron Boswell warned that those involved in the fishing industry should be alert to the Federal Government’s East Coast Marine Bioregional Planning process.
The East Marine Bio-region covers an area of 2.4 million square kilometres and includes all Commonwealth waters from the eastern side of Cape York to just north of the NSW/Victoria border, excluding the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and also includes the waters around Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands.
“Meetings between stakeholders and government on the Bioregion have already included discussions on compensation for activities displaced by the marine protected areas, and as fishermen know too well, when compensation is discussed it means there will inevitably be closures,” Senator Boswell said.
“Stakeholder discussions have also revealed the potential for navigational closures, more green zones and the potential licensing of game fishing vessels.”
“There are hundreds of businesses through the coastal communities of Queensland and New South Wales as far as Batemans Bay that are directly involved in fishing. Closures in the waters off Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone, Hervey Bay, Sunshine and Gold Coasts would have a direct effect on the viability of fishing businesses in these communities.”
Boswell said that, “Fishermen have to be aware that Federal Minister Peter Garrett has already shown that he is being influenced on fishing policy by environmental groups such as US based extremist group PEW.”
“As a direct result of PEW’s influence we have recently seen Minister Garrett proclaim 1 million square kilometres of the northern part of the planning area as the Coral Sea Heritage Park. PEW’s stated goal for this park is that it should be a No-Fish area.”
“The Amount of Gross Value Product generated directly from fishing, south of the Great Barrier Reef Marine park, is over $100 million, with a flow on effect to local economies of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The importance of fishing to regional economy cannot be understated and the industry must do all it can to counter the arguments of extremist environmental groups like PEW.”