Marine park plan 'a dog's breakfast'

Joachim AzzopardiCountryman
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The Department of Fisheries and WA's peak recreational fishing body both showed dismay at the marine park plan announced by the Federal Government last week.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore labelled the final Marine Reserves Network Proposal as "a dog's breakfast" that would hurt WA's economy.

Mr Moore said the proposal had failed to achieve a balance between the Commonwealth's conservation agenda and the needs of the WA community for access to the marine environment for fresh fish and for recreation.

"It will push the community's demand for fresh fish to imports from questionably managed overseas fisheries," he said. "The final plan is overly complex and will present real difficulties for recreational fishers in identifying closed areas in the open seas.

"It also fails to recognise the comprehensive suite of arrangements already in place to manage WA's fishing, petroleum and marine resources, and the State's excellent track record in this regard."

Mr Moore said the Federal Government would also need to ensure recreational fishing activities were not just pushed into other areas managed by the State, leading to increased localised pressure on marine ecosystems.

"The Commonwealth has made no provision for the cost of policing these new marine parks," he said.

"Where are the boats and fisheries officers to do this work?

"The Federal Government will be held to account on all aspects of this proposal."

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland is asking Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to seriously reconsider the plan in the context of marine reserves for WA's recreational fishers.

"Where is the science that says iconic fishing areas like Geographe Bay, the Rottnest Trench and Dampier need to be out of bounds to recreational fishing?" Dr Rowland said.

"The detriment to the recreational fishing sector will be huge and for what conservation benefits?"

Dr Rowland said Recfishwest supported marine parks provided they were based on science and logic and free from any politics.

He questioned the Federal Government's logic in wanting to impose lock-outs on fishing families in the same week it opened the door for a foreign operated super trawler to fish waters off the WA coast.

"Surely this wouldn't be the case if the Government is serious about conserving our marine environment," Dr Rowland said.

He urged Mr Burke to turn this outcome around by reviewing how recreational fishing was classified under marine park zoning rules.

"We are asking Mr Burke to perform this review as a matter of urgency before he proclaims the marine park reserve system and locks WA recreational fishing families out of these areas, just to keep foreign-funded conservation groups happy."

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