South Australians await Marine Parks outcome

After a late attempt last week to convince the State Government to scale back marine park boundaries, South Australian stakeholders now await the outcomes of submissions. Local government, recreational and commercial fishers recently met to urgently re-examine a proposal sent to the State Government which recommended the area declared should be trimmed to 20 per cent of the current proposal. This follows the SA government revealing it was not prepared to dramatically change its marine park outer boundaries, which will absorb up to 70 per cent of the state’s south east coastline and see the expected introduction of 19 marine parks in total by 2010.

The government is also considering a proposal by the conservation/greens group, which could cost the state more than $100m to compensate commercial fishing interests.
Southern Rocklobster Limited executive officer Roger Edwards, who convened a meeting with stakeholders last week in Mount Gambier, said the government’s outer boundaries had already been declared and Minister Jay Weatherill had until July 31 to make any adjustments.
Edwards said the South East group had recommended that 10 smaller marine parks should be established to protect local habitat areas.
But he said the South East group yesterday was forced to look at expanding these smaller parks if they had any hope of winning government support.

“We don’t know what the impact these marine parks will have on the recreational and commercial fishing sectors until the zones within them are declared,” said Edwards, who explained the number of no-take zones had yet to be finalised.
The South East submission was prepared by the South Australian Recreational Fishing Advisory Council, the commercial fishing sector and the South East Local Government Association, following widespread concern over the proposal across the regional community. The report was highly critical of the government’s marine park proposal, claiming there have been “no threats” identified to conservation values in the South East.
A spokesperson for Minister Weatherill has said advice and submissions from the working groups and the public regarding boundary adjustments were being considered.
Meanwhile, South East MP Mitch Williams had said Weatherill was being “gutless” by not reacting to community concerns and altering proposed boundaries, and was instead happy to leave it up to parliament to change.

“If he doesn’t amend the boundaries the Rann Government can then ban whatever activity it likes within the marine parks,” Williams said.
“South Australians deserve to be informed before the end of July 2009 what feedback the working groups received and what action the Minister intends to take.”


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