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Government Announcement of Marine Reserve Expansion Plan Met With Mixed Views

Sustainability Economics Politics +4 more

AUSTRALIA - Australia's marine environments have been permanently protected with the proclamation of the world's biggest network of marine reserves. Environment Minister, Tony Burke, marked the proclamation which will protect more than 2.3 million square kilometers of ocean environment.

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"Australia is a world leader when it comes to protecting our oceans, and so we should be, we've got responsibility for more of the ocean than almost any other country on Earth," Mr Burke said.

"Australia is home to some incredible marine environments including the Perth Canyon in the south-west and the stunning reefs of the Coral Sea and this announcement cements Australia's position as a world leader on environmental protection.

Mr Burke stated that the majority of submissions received supported the Government's plan. However he did note that there will be some impacts on fishermen and businesses.

The Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA)commented on the marine reserves, stating that they are bad news for the professional fishing industry, regional communities and industries that service fisheries around Australia.

The Government is therefore providing a Fisheries Adjustment Assistance Package worth around A$100 million.

However, CFA stated that it understands from the Environment Ministers release, that those with the least capacity to absorb impacts (eg businesses impacted less than A$5,000) will receive no assistance from the government. ..Thats appalling... said Martin Exel, Chair of CFA.

"Everyone impacted negatively by these new reserves should be recompensed. That goes for the fishermen, their crews, regional communities, suppliers, and truck drivers that deliver the fish, said Mr Exel.

"The CFA considers it untenable that the marine reserves will be implemented, based on a deficient socioeconomic impact assessment. Two independent reports confirm that the government has not identified and fully costed the impacts on the fishing industry or community, nor has it adequately demonstrated the conservation benefits of setting aside such huge tracts of our waters.

"CFA considers it unacceptable the government has capped this package before it understands the impacts the reserves will create for Australians. For example, we understand the more than 100 communities identified by ABARES as directly impacted will not receive assistance," Mr Exel concluded.

Management plans have been created by the government to outline how the reserves are to be managed and what gear types and activities can and cannot be used and undertaken in the marine reserves.

"While the management plans for the new reserves are being developed, transitional arrangements will be in place that maintain current arrangements for industry and recreation fishers," said Mr Burke.

"This means that from 17 November until the new management plans come into effect in July 2014, there will be no 'on the water' changes for users in the new areas added to the Commonwealth reserve estate."

The WWF congratulated the Government on finalising the boundaries and basic layout of the worlds largest network of marine parks. The conservation organisation also praised the high level of community support for the move.