Effort to stall marine reserve rejected
By SeafoodSource staff
21 June, 2012
An effort to stall the Australian government’s plan to establish the world’s largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea has been rejected.
A motion to refer the plan to the Australian Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs Committee was defeated, which Queensland Senator Ron Boswell called “a major blow” to the region’s fishing and seafood industries.
“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,” said Boswell in a press release on Wednesday.
The Coral Sea is located off Australia’s northeast coast and stretches from the Great Barrier Reef to Papua New Guinea in the north and the Solomon Islands in the east. Trawl fishing would be prohibited in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, which, at almost 1 million square kilometers (around 380,000 square miles), is more than half the size of Queensland.
The proposal to establish the marine reserve surfaced last year and is backed by Tony Burke, Australia’s environment minister.
“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,” said Boswell. “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.”
Australia’s fishing industry is also concerned about the government’s ability to police such a vast marine reserve.
Last week, Burke announced that he will make a final decision on the plan following a 60-day consultation process but warned that altering the marine reserve’s borders will not be part of the process. He also vowed to provide the fishing industry with an assistance package in the vicinity of AUD 100 million.
Watch Burke defend the marine reserve is this three-minute YouTube clip:
21 June, 2012