Burke threatens Government's Marine Park Plans

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THE Turnbull Government's plans for Australia's 44 Federal Marine Parks are in jeopardy with Shadow Environment Minister Tony Bourke promising to derail the move in the Senate.

According to the Minister for the Environment and Energy, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, the new regime improves on plans introduced but never implemented by Labor in 2012.

The Government promises to deliver a more balanced and scientific evidence-based approach to ocean protection, enabling tourism and well-managed fishing activity supporting local communities, local jobs and regional economies.

Key elements of the Turnbull Government’s plan compared to Labor’s proposed plans include:
* An increase of 200,000 square kilometres in the area with sea floor protection.
* 16 per cent more of the total area of parks will be open to recreational fishing which includes access to 97 per cent of Commonwealth waters within 100 kilometres of the coast. This reduces by 400,000 square kilometres the area from which Labor would have locked out Australia’s five million recreational fishers.
* 17 per cent more of the total area of marine parks open to commercial fishing.
* A four per cent decrease in the total area of marine parks open to mining.
* The protection of 509 conservation features (reefs and canyons), 344 in the highest levels of protection, compared to 331 in Labor’s plans.

The Government said it has allocated $56 million to implement these plans, including funding for community engagement and science and an appropriate adjustment package which government will consult with industry on.

Shadow Minister for The Environment And Water, Labor's Tony Burke, said in a statement that Australia's network of marine parks "has been gutted".

"The more pristine the area, the more savage the changes are. The Coral Sea has gone from being the Jewel in the Crown of the Commonwealth Marine Parks protecting the eastern side of the Great Barrier Reef to now being a haven for longlining and trawling," said Burke.

"The Government’s own handpicked panel had recommended a series of changes which reduced the environmental outcome of the original marine reserves," he said.

"Josh Frydenberg has looked at those changes and determined that even they didn’t go far enough and has decided to take even more areas out of environmental protection.

"He has also attacked recreational fishing by taking an area which had been the largest recreational fishing-only zone in the world and opened it up in full to commercial operators.

"The commercial operators include longliners, purse seine fishing and midwater trawling which is the same method of fishing used by the super trawler," said Burke.

Tony Burke has promised to block the Government's plans in the senate. This could leave the decison in the hands of a few independant and cross-bench senate members.

The plans can be found via www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.

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