OPINION: Tony Burke wants to steal Tasmania

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Tony Burke has plans to lock anglers out of an additioanl area  of ocean nearly the size of Tasmania.

THERE are few more complex and controversial topics in Australia than Marine Parks. Based upon a fundamentally flawed model called the C.A.R. system (Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative), the ability to lock up huge areas of our oceans sent the bright greens and conflicted scientists into raptures.

Compare this with Australia’s highly successful risk-based (and increasingly risk reducing) fisheries management models and you have a recipe for green chaos or vilification of the very people whose interests in sustainability are being so badly patronised.

And the world is about to get whole lot worse if one man, Labor’s Tony Burke, gets his hands on the tiller.

Following more than 6 years of tense, emotional and exhaustive negotiations, a compromise was reached on the appalling proposals of Burke and green bureaucrats for additional Marine Park introductions in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It started out as needing to protect 7 habitat types, then more than 20 and finally around 43 different areas all needed protection as green fundamentalists went into a feeding frenzy, gorging on public funds and the corpse of fishing as we know it in Australia.

The final conclusions negotiated by a coalition government were still very green indeed. And that is not a bad thing for our country and our planet. The final zones were far from satisfactory for the groups bearing the brunt of the introductions, commercial and recreational fishers, but they, as well as many of the more moderate and sensible conservation organisations, accepted the compromise and agreed with the introduction.

The result was that in Australian Marine Parks Recreational fishing is allowed in around 97 per cent of Commonwealth waters within 100 km of the coast. The plan included the introduction of an extra 200,000 km or so of protected zones. This means that Australia introduced a massive area in Sanctuary Zones, only slightly smaller than the state of Victoria!

It made Australia a true world leader in marine conservation, and in the game of painting the water green and attacking fishing interests it was the best of a bad world.

But it wasn’t enough for Tony Burke, Pew and the university scientists with their snouts in the trough. Burke introduced a disallowance motion to get the original draconian plans reintroduced. It was of course supported by the Greens whose idea of fairness is to eliminate anything that might possibly have a positive social impact and reduce the misery they love so much. Through much effort by fishing interests and with the support of a number of responsible green groups, the disallowance motion was defeated.

Unfortunately a person like Burke simply won’t take no for an answer and his plan has reappeared as Labor party policy in this election campaign. The few sad sycophants of Burke try and tell you that it only represents an additional ‘loss’ of another 1%.

And that doesn’t sound much until you figure out the area involved (which includes many of the bits of Australia that are actively fished because if people are having fun somewhere the Greens want to eliminate it). Tony Burke – without further reference or consideration of any consequences WILL lock out an ADDITIONAL area nearly the size of Tasmania.

The fishing and common sense community groups already conceded, for an undefined threat, an area the size of Victoria. Australia is a world leader in this form of management. But now Burke wants to add Tasmania – and he is telling industry that this is the first move as he seeks personal revenge on the fishing industries for having his disallowance motion defeated.

So why the reference to 100 km from the coast? This is used because (and this is true except for parts of the Great Barrier Reef and a few other locations) recreational fishers don’t fish these waters. Which immediately begs the question – so why are they banned anyway? And the most insidious component of this whole dirty mess becomes apparent. We are banned because it makes the areas GREEN on the zoning maps which suits the Pew international agenda of locking up as much of the ocean as possible. And you, my poor dumb Aussie mates, are the stalking horse for these green zealots.

And what exactly do the proponents of these areas give up? Well, they keep their tax free status as a not-for-profit group, so that their resources are multiplied by our tax system. They don’t pay licences - that is up to recreational and commercial fishers to subsidise the attendance of green groups to meetings. Dive charters get exclusive and free access to the sanctuary zones where fishing has conveniently been removed.

In Florida, the managers of their marine parks have described flipper damage and anchoring as the greatest risks to park values; much higher than fishing. Have you EVER heard of the green groups talking about flipper and hand damage. No, of course not. Snorkelers are the pure green battle bots in this war. And in places like Ningaloo in Western Australia, it is an offence to pick up a DEAD shell from a sanctuary zone in case you killed it (or are somehow having fun), while it is ok for a dive charter to drop a 100 kg anchor on top of a plate coral in a sanctuary zone.

Burke’s whisperers are saying that 1% doesn’t matter but you, the recreational fishers of Australia, have a chance to show Tony Burke, and the machine that refuses to control him, that indeed it does.

Labor has, to their credit, announced around $45 million for recreational fishing related spending. However, it represents a once off ‘compensation’ of around $1000 per square km of additional ocean that will be taken away!!!

Be part of the 1% that makes a difference in this election. It is especially important if you support Labor or are thinking about supporting them. Your vote really matters. Tell your local candidate that their appalling policy on marine parks will cost your vote. Don’t be a Burke – don’t let Tony Burke steal an oceanic Tasmania from recreational fishing interests...

So what do we really want?

  1. An assurance that there will be no reverting to the original 2012 plan. Everyone but Burke and the fundamental greens have moved on.
  2. That areas such as the Bremer upwelling should be protected only following objective assessment and open consultation.
  3. That the role of sound and sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries management is given appropriate consideration in the overall responsible management of Australia’s oceans and aquatic resources.

It’s not really too much to ask. Then if you want to vote for Labor on the strength of their other policies and philosophies, you can do so knowing you haven’t sold your fishing future – FOREVER!

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