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Federal Coalition delivers on promise to fishers & environment

by Dean Logan AMA on 17 Dec 2013
Marine Park Zones .. ©
The Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) today welcomed the decision by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to seek the Governor General to re-proclaim new Commonwealth marine reserves, invalidating Labor's management plans and exclusion zones which would have come into effect in July 2014.

Mr Logan said, 'This is an outstanding outcome for the marine environment, regional Australia and thousands of sustainable fishing businesses and allied SMEs in the tourism, manufacturing, boating, outboard engine and retail sectors, who rely on the marine environment for their livelihood.'

The AMA has been working with the Federal Coalition for 6 years to address glaring policy concerns with the Marine Bio-Regional Planning Process (MBPP) evidenced under Labor. The AMA secured the commitment to suspend the MBPP, if elected, from the now Prime Minister on 24 August 2012.

Mr Logan continued, 'The first thing to note is that the Federal Coalition can be trusted to deliver on what they say they will do.

'Secondly, Labor and the Green’s policy of arbitrarily locking up large areas of marine environment without an ounce of credible science is dead and buried. USA based environmental NGO’s and their billion dollar balance sheets can also take their bat and ball and go home because their solution has failed - principally because they failed to deliver the necessary protection the marine environment deserved.'

The key issues surrounding this decision are:
* The response from Labor’s Mark Butler and key environmental groups to the decision is wrong. The Coalition’s decision takes the MBPP back to its credible scientific roots, where IUCN zones and relevant management plans were implemented seamlessly, with industry and community support.
* Under the leadership of Tony Burke the entire MBPP was plagued by grubby back room deals and something like 12 versions of maps that most people never viewed. The argument of course is that the Labor process had more to do with inner city Green preference deals, than credible science driven marine and environmental policy.
* The MBPP under Labor was not supported by a majority of the Australian public as suggested by environmental NGOs (ENGOs). In fact it was proven in Senate Estimates on 22 May 2012 that out of 487,434 submissions tabled by ENGOs, in-excess of 94% were computer generated campaign submissions from overseas – most likely from the USA.
* Under Labor and the Greens millions of dollars of investment and thousands of regional jobs were on the verge of being lost without an ounce of thought. In fact Labor and the Greens dismissed an independent socio-economic assessment that calculated the Cairns regional economy would lose over $1BN in economic activity, due to the Labor / Green marine park approach.
* Under Labor and the Greens some fishing businesses were locked out of 85% of their fishing grounds, placing millions of dollars of investment and regional jobs in jeopardy, without a single letter or phone call from Canberra.
* Tony Burke’s whirl-wind consultation process last year was more aligned to ‘speed dating’ than a genuine attempt to understand how Government decisions would affect businesses, communities and families around Coastal Australia.
* Under Labor and the Greens compensation for those wishing to exit the sector was grossly inadequate with businesses worth 5 million dollars, likely to receive only $60,000.
* In 6 years fighting this issue we have not met a single scientist under Labor’s leadership from the Bureau of Rural Science (BRS) or the Federal Department of Environment to substantiate the largest marine reserve network in history - 3.5M sqkms of arbitrary marine closures.

Mr Logan concluded, 'In summary, whilst fishing continues as normal the key now will be to dovetail fisheries management and environmental outcomes with regional policy objectives.

'Labor’s zones and boundaries don’t make sense and the policy methodology did not provide the necessary protection the marine environment deserves.

'The decision by the Abbott Federal Government will now subject the entire process to strong, robust and independent scientific review. Modern fishing businesses are pivotal to our regional fabric. Many are vertically integrated, young, and highly professional, providing skills and significant economic activity to towns where it is needed most.

'Why ENGOs ignore the fact that we have some of the most advanced sustainable fishing practices of any developed country, is a question every donor to their cause must ask.

'The Federal Coalition recognises that the marine environment does not benefit when wedge politics and horse trading dictate policy discourse. The Federal Coalition will now work with the custodians of the marine environment to effectively manage the resource, thereby delivering a far greater environmental benefit than the ENGOs themselves seek.'

More at www.australianmarinealliance.com.au
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