Senator for Queensland, Ron Boswell said today that the defeat of a motion to refer the Government’s proposed marine parks to the Rural and Regional Affairs Senate Committee was a major blow to the recreational and commercial fishermen, charter fishing and marine dealers and the allied businesses that will be severely impacted by this policy.
Proposed Coral Sea Heritage Park PEW
Their voices have not been heard in this debate and a Senate inquiry would have given them the opportunity to have their concerns raised on the record and would allow the Government’s policy to be scrutinised.
The Environment Minister’s consultation process has been a sham. Mr Burke has engaged in 'selective consultation' and has failed to explain to the Australian fishing industry what the economic implications of these proposed marine reserve parks will be.
Mr Burke seems to only be interested in boasting that Australia will lead the world with 70 percent of the world’s marine reserves, and was devastated that his chance to brag to other Environment Ministers at the Rio+20 conference was denied.
Mr Burke has shown little regard for the amateur and commercial fishing industries and the many local communities that depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
The Government is denying Australians a major food source. Australia currently imports 72 per cent of our seafood from other nations and we extract less than 30 kilograms of marine catch per square kilometre from our own oceans. We import most of our seafood from Thailand who extract more than 6,000 kilograms of marine catch per square kilometre from their waters.
If Minister Burke is so proud of this policy, he should be prepared to have it examined in an open and transparent process such as a Senate inquiry.
There are so many questions that need to be answered, as fishermen have been left in the dark with very few details provided.
The American Environment Group PEW might be across the details of this policy but the fishermen who are going to be directly impacted are not.
Without legislation and debate, Tony Burke with a stroke of a pen will be able to declare 44 marine parks, leaving devastated communities and fishers in his wake.
The Port Douglas charter company 'Bianca' is already feeling the economic consequences of Burke’s proposed marine parks with $120,000 lost due to cancellations.
He must answer the following questions about the design and the implementation of the fishing adjustment assistance package:
* How many commercial boats will be impacted by the proposed marine parks?
* How did the Government calculate the $100 million compensation figure that they have nominated?
* What will the Gross Value of Production (GVP) that will be lost due to the new parks, in each region and in total?
* Will the structural assistance cover the cost of fishermen’s boats, licences, and nets?
* Will the structural assistance compensate fishing, tackle shops, charter fishing operators, marine dealers, the outboard motor industry, other marine industries and land based infrastructure for the loss of business?
* How and when will the structural assistance be undertaken?
* Where in the Budget has the Government allocated funding for the structural assistance package?
Minister Burke has also provided no details on how the Government intends to manage and patrol 3.1 million square kilometres of marine reserves. Perhaps Burke is considering employing the Sea Shepherd as the first line of defence in the Coral Sea. Foreign vessels thinking of fishing in the Coral Sea marine park will relish the prospect of the Sea Shepherd when not chasing Japanese whale boats patrolling the Coral Sea?