Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday met with conservation groups, to discuss the Commonwealth’s review of marine protection zones.*
The outcome of these meetings is as yet unknown. Fisho contacted Garrett’s office to find out more but we were told the Minister would not be releasing the detail of his meeting with the environmental lobbyists.
There was no recreational fishing representation at the meeting yesterday, although it is understood Minister Garrett will meet with recreational fishing groups at some stage.
The Federal Government is considering creating marine sanctuaries in the south-west region, from Geraldton in WA to Kangaroo Island in SA, and has made a commitment to assess the need for greater protection along the entire Australian coastline by 2012.
A poll commissioned by Pew has found that more than 60 per cent of Australians want greater marine protection on the south-west coastline. According to the survey of 4,000 people, nearly two-thirds wanted at least half the area to be given greater protection.
Michelle Grady, from the Pew Environment Group, claims people are concerned that so little of the ocean is protected.
“It’s very, very important that we take this opportunity to protect them,” she said.
Grady said large marine parks must be established if key ocean species are to survive.
“The Australian people want to see far higher levels of marine protection than currently exists in Australian waters,” she said on ABC radio.
“Less than 1 per cent of this area is protected and with the oil spill this week, it’s clear there are significant risks out there in the marine environment and the insurance we need to put in place is large marine sanctuaries.”
Grady did not explain how marine parks would stop oil leaks.
It remains unclear why the US-based Pew group, which describes itself as “a knowledge-based advocate for policy solutions in the areas of the environment, state issues, economic concerns, and the financial security of the American people”, is leading a campaign to ban Australian anglers from fishing in Australia’s Coral Sea.
Fishing World contacted Minister Garrett’s office for news of the outcome of yesterday’s meetings. We were told by a media advisor that the meetings with Greens, fishing groups and other concerned parties are still ongoing.
Len Olyott, CEO of Recfish Australia, told Fisho he had today been made aware of the meetings but had not as yet been invited to future discussions.
We will keep you updated of developments in this issue.
Untitled Document*Clarification 1/9/09: Fishing World was contacted today by a spokesperson from the Pew Environment Group stating the US-funded organisation did not have representation at last week’s meetings with the Environment Minister. Pew representatives were scheduled to meet with Garrett’s office and the other environment groups in Sydney but had to cancel at the last minute. Pew has previously had discussions with the Federal Government about the Coral Sea and other issues. Fisho has scheduled an interview with Imogen Zethoven, the director of Pew’s Coral Sea Campaign, for next week. Stay tuned!