Nats to block Garrett on Coral Sea

Angling groups are backing moves by Nationals Senator Ron Boswell to block the implementation of a no-fishing marine park in the Coral Sea. Senator Boswell yesterday moved in the Senate to disallow a proclamation that would introduce a Coral Sea Marine Park, an action which has been condemned by the Federal Government but widely praised by anglers.

Senator Boswell said the proposed park would put at risk the jobs of thousands of people involved in the North Queensland fishing and boating industries. RecFish Australia and the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) have pledged support for Senator Boswell’s actions.

Earlier in the year Environment Minister Peter Garrett proclaimed a Conservation Zone that would take in nearly a million square kilometres of the Coral Sea, east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Senator Boswell, supported by Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald, said in the Senate yesterday “that the Proclamation made on 14 May 2009 under subsection 390D(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 declaring an area to be a conservation zone be disallowed”.

“This motion will stop the Coral Sea Heritage Park from going ahead and will save the jobs of hundreds of people involved in the fishing industry,” Senator Boswell said.

“The declaration of a conservation zone is seen by many as the first step to unilaterally declaring a one million square kilometre ‘green’ zone (the world’s largest no-take marine park), under the predominant pressure of US based lobby group Pew.”

According to Senator Boswell, Pew has been at the forefront of pressuring the Federal Government “to succumb to its agenda, which is to lock-up the Coral Sea from any use, contrary to any scientific fact”.
“There is no need for additional no-fishing areas in the Coral Sea region,” Senator Boswell said.
“The Coral Sea area is a low volume, high value fishery and its sustainability has not really been under question. The motivation for PEW’s proposal seems to be just environmental extremism for the sake of it.

“If this proposal went ahead it could lead to fishing closures, game boats being licensed and even navigation could potentially be blocked in certain zones.”

A spokesperson for Minister Garrett told Fisho: “It is very disappointing that the National Party are seeking to frustrate a declaration which recognises the extraordinary environmental values of this region as well as their economic and recreational values and has no impact on current activities in the region.

“The Government is committed to a full and robust consultation program as part of its bioregional planning process.”

Angling groups have united behind the Opposition’s Senate moves. “Recfish Australia is opposed to a Coral Sea Heritage Park that would lock all fishers out of the Coral Sea as proposed by Pew and other groups,” said Recfish CEO Len Olyott.

“We have a policy on marine protected areas which states that any declaration of no fishing zones must be risk based and have good documented scientific evidence demonstrating the impact of recreational fishers.
“Anti-fishing groups use any mechanism at their disposal to turn the public and politicians against recreational fishers and it’s time that recreational fishers did the same. If we cannot have our voice heard in the consultation process we must resort to the political process and let our elected representatives lobby on our behalf.”

AFTA is not in favour of seeing any restrictions on fishing of any sort in the Coral Sea unless there is demonsratable scientific proof that certain restrictions are required to protect a fishery, AFTA president Bruce Alvey told Fisho.

“We are happy to work with the Government and other interested stakeholders to see a Fisheries Management Plan developed to make sure the Coral Sea remains a healthy viable fishery into the future,” Alvey said.

“AFTA continues to liaise with Government on these issues and is seeking an aligned pro-active outcome for affected industries.

“AFTA has from the very start of the PEW push to close the Coral Sea supported initiatives that retain control of Australian waters by Australians ensuring food security for the nation.”

Stay tuned to Fishing World magazine and for more info on this important issue as it comes to hand

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Above: Senator Ron Boswell

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