Marine Parks Debate Heats up in the West

FOLLOWING on from last week’s angler rally at a community-based forum in Western Australia, environmental groups have been accused of hijacking the debate over fishing exclusion zones.

Fishing and conservation groups met with federal Environment Minister Tony Burke in Perth before the release of draft plans for southwest marine reserves that stretch from South Australia’s Kangaroo Island to WA’s Shark Bay.

Burke said “spectacular” marine assets off WA would have been protected decades ago if they were on land.

Save Our Marine Life, a collection of organisations including WWF and the Australian Conservation Council, wants a mix of exclusion and fishing zones similar to those on the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo marine park, off WA’s north coast.

Mr Burke said 90 per cent of the marine species found in the southwest marine bio-region, were not found anywhere else.

Kane Moyle of Recfishwest said their advice was marine species could be protected without a significant cut to recreational fishing. “The impact of recreational fishing on a number of the identified conservation values, being whales and other protected species and migratory species, is fairly minimal,” he told The Australian.

A spokesman for Save Our Marine Life, Tim Nicol, said excluding all forms of fishing from certain zones was of great benefit to the marine environment. “I think it could be a win-win for the environment and fishing, if you look at areas like Ningaloo reef.”

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