Former Fisheries Boss Slams SA Marine Parks

FORMER South Australian Fisheries director David Hill has slammed the State Government’s marine parks process, calling it a “complete and utter sham” which, once implemented, would be unaffordable to manage.

Hill said it would cost the SA Government around $250m per year to manage the state’s proposed 19 marine parks.

“They might be wishing for a pot of gold, but it’s not going to come,” Hill told SA’s The Border Watch.

“Taxpayers should be aware of the cost and ask the question — does the government have the money for it? Whenever you ask them the question, they just give you a starry look.”

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR), sanctuary (no-take) zones in marine parks manage activities, such as the “removal of animals”, that impact on ecosystems andhabitats.

But Hill said it was an insult to fishermen.

“The only ones that are removing animals from the ocean are fishermen, but there was no scientific evidence that fishing is causing any harm to the environment,” he said.

“Fishermen feel insulted, threatened and despair because they are doing a lot on their own accord to protect the environment, but thereis no emphasis on that in the marine parks process.

“Recent scientific research in Tasmania has proven that large no-take zones can actually lead to over-fishing outside the zones.”

Hill also backed Bob Kearney, Emeritus Professor of Fisheries at the University of Canberra, in his criticism of the government’s paper, The Science of Marine Parks.

Kearney has said the paper was exaggerated, highly selective in its incorrectly interpreted scientific review, and claimed it failed to identify the threats to the marine environment put in the case for large-scale sanctuary zones covering 20-25 per cent of the area in marine parks.

He said traditional methods of fisheries management were the most effective way to control the effects of fishing and to prevent the threat of over fishing.

Environment Minister Paul Caica has defended South Australia’s marine parks program, saying it was based on the best available international,national and local marine science.

“We would encourage Prof Kearney to work with the State Government in helping to develop a representative marine parks system,” Caica said.

Professor Kearney told The Border Watch he found Mr Caica’s comment “hollow” as he had tried to work with the government in the past.

“Two years ago, five senior marine scientists with a mix of very relevant experience produced a report showing that the process that was being used for declaring marine parks in this state was fatally flawed,” he said.

A public meeting to discuss the Marine Park Exclusion Zones will be held at the Burnside Town Hall on Tuesday, April 5, at 7pm.

For more information on SA’s marine parks click here.

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