Prime Minister Gillard’s recently announced vision for Australia as the regional food superpower supplying Asia is being undermined by proposals from Environment Minister Tony Burke for huge marine parks with bans on fishing.
Mr Burke’s proposals will mean even more seafood imported from Asia, completely contrary to the concept of Australia supplying Asia’s food needs and contrary to the national food plan announced by Burke two years ago when he was Agriculture and Fisheries minister.
'Today the Australian Environment Foundation sent a report to all members of parliament prepared by marine biologist Dr Walter Starck that shows how ‘green tape’ and environmental campaigns have strangled Australia’s ability to sustainably harvest seafood' said AEF executive director Max Rheese.
'The report’s conclusions unfortunately make a mockery of the Prime Minister’s vision of feeding Asia.'
'These proposals for vast marine parks that will encompass over a million square kilometres of productive fishing grounds are a solution in search of a problem.
'There is no demonstrated threat to fish or biodiversity in Australian waters that these closures will address.
'Huge marine parks where they are not needed will not address problems with global marine biodiversity. Bans on fishing in Australian waters, when we have the lowest seafood harvest of any nation, will only shift environmental impacts to waters that are already heavily exploited.
'Misguided campaigns to ban fishing, led by foreign environment groups to address problems that do not exist are not in the national interests of food security or in the interests of global marine conservation when Australia already has 25 per cent of the world’s marine park area.'
Australia currently imports 70 per cent of the seafood it consumes, mostly from Asian fisheries much more heavily fished than Australian waters.
'The Prime Minister must cut ‘green tape’ as she recently promised, not allow her environment minister to bow to the demands of the U.S. based Pew Foundation driving this anti-fishing campaign.
'We already ‘save’ our fish so Asian fishermen can catch and sell them back to us' said Mr Rheese.
The report is available here The AEF is a not-for-profit, membership-based environment organisation having no political affiliation. The AEF accept that environmental protection and sustainable resource use are generally compatible. For more information visit www.aefweb.info