Australian Marine Restrictions Not Just About Fishing

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Australian Marine Restrictions Not Just About Fishing

Fisheries adjustment policy deficient....

BHP, Telstra and P&O should be equally concerned about proposed tough new marine restrictions as those in the fishing industries , Queensland's peak marine body, Marine Queensland has warned.

Marine Queensland CEO Don Jones said it was wrong to simply dismiss marine restrictions as a "fishing issue" when so many livelihoods would be affected across the country.

"When this whole process was started, the idea was to give the Government some idea of what is in the water and who is using it," Jones said.

"It was to help with issues of shipping, tourism, mining, sea dumping, marine activity through communication laying and of course fishing.

"Now it is just about whether you can catch a fish or not with extreme green groups driving the issue from a philosophical position rather than one of marine fact.

"Scientists are telling us this is not about what you catch it is about habitat - all of which is affected by many other groups than fishing."

Jones said the marine industry represented more than 1,800 land and water based businesses employing around 12,000 employees who have been virtually disregarded by the current policy process.

He will travel to Canberra on Friday to give evidence and address the Senate Hearing on proposed marine restrictions that could be implemented as early as Christmas. This would affect fishing and recreation in more than 13,000 square kilometres of Tin Can Bay near Hervey Bay.

"This process has been unsatisfactory to say the least and the latest announcement is merely another poor outcome in a long procession of poorly considered positions and flawed processes," Jones said.

"Marine Queensland believes the fisheries adjustment policy is extremely deficient: it totally ignores any impact apart from commercial fishing. It is not good enough.

"This completely ignores any issues in relation to displaced activity as a result of the establishment of marine protection areas.

"As a fishing issue, we need the Environment Minister Tony Burke to talk about real compensation for the Charter Fishing sector that was likely to be most affected by the next round of marine park restrictions from the marine bioregional planning process.

"Livelihoods will be lost, incomes restricted - they've shown little regard for the consultation process and ignoring the needs and implications of many of our members.

"Statements about compensation have been deflected to fisheries adjustment policy said to be modelled on similar plans by the Howard government and that compensation will be dependent on the extent of the restrictions.

"We have already seen in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park a structural adjustment program that was established to affect all land and water based businesses that were negatively impacted by the rezoning of that marine park.

"This is bureaucracy that fails to address the concerns of the State's regional communities let alone acknowledging the impact on marine related industries."

The Federal Minister has released the policy relating to structural adjustment under the national bioregional planning processes.

The policy in effect addresses:

    * Changes to commercial fisheries activity displaced as a result on the introduction of new marine protection measures;
    * Makes comments on the interaction between marine protection areas and fisheries management;
    * How assistance will be provided to the commercial fishing sector.

"It is hard to accept assurances from the Minister when the whole process has simply been a political exercise - this is not about winning political points with environmentalists obsessed with philosophy rather than science based facts - this is about the balance of protecting future livelihoods - of all things marine, " Jones said.

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