SUPERTRAWLERS will be back in Australian waters following the Turnbull government’s slashing of proposed marine parks, says Federal Labor MP Josh Wilson.
Mr Wilson calls the cutbacks to Labor’s planned national network of sanctuaries “the largest act of marine vandalism in Australia’s history”.
But federal environmnet minister Josh Frydenberg says the new plans, endorsed by the Senate last week deliver a “balanced and scientific evidence-based approach to ocean protection”. The plans would also open 17 per cent more park area to commercial fishing.
“Make no mistake, the only reason for removing these sanctuary zones is to open the way for industrial fishing and super-trawlers in these far offshore locations,” says Mr Wilson. “We are already seeing a regional increase in this form of brutal, indiscriminate fishing, and if the government has its way, Australia will be next.”
Late last year, the department of environment received 82,000 submissions about the proposed network, with 92 per cent calling for more stringent protection of marine areas.
Former federal MP Melissa Parke lobbied hard to get the original park plan through under Kevin Rudd, and says she’s appalled by the cutbacks.
“I know that Fremantle people will be appalled by the Turnbull government’s changes to marine parks and I also know that Fremantle people will continue to fight for the protection of our oceans which are after all the blue heart of the planet,” Ms Parke said.
Three WA sanctuaries are affected, including one at the head of the Perth Canyon off Rottnest Island, a feeding area for the protected blue whale.
But the head of the Seafood Industry Australia says there are no plots to bring back super-trawlers and it’s just a Labor/Greens fear campaign to derail the current park plans.
“These management plans do not and will not have any impact on the number of fish being caught in Australian waters,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell told the Voice.
“The plans are based on the latest independent scientific research and extensive community consultation.
“Labor and the Green’s repeated comments that Commonwealth marine parks are being ‘slashed’ are blatant lies
“In 2012 Labor tabled plans that were never accepted or passed. Saying they were is like saying a letter to Santa is a binding agreement to deliver.”
Ms Lovell says Labor’s proposed network had no management plans to govern their use, and therefore no protection.
She says parks aren’t a fisheries management tool, as there’s a number of government agencies that look at stock data to determine quotas for various zones and species.
“Fisheries management agencies are how we make sure there are enough fish in the ocean, not through marine parks. Marine parks ensure there are protections in place for ecological features, not fish stocks,” she says.
by ALICE ANGELONI and STEVE GRANT