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Marine park fish ban fears

US - West Coast councils fear a series of proposed marine parks will have significant social and economic impacts on many coastal towns.

They believe the parks will displace both professional and recreational fishing and diving activities in many productive areas – severely affecting businesses relying on such activity.

The Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association has called for immediate economic impact assessments, improved public consultation on the extent of the planned parks and for details – and costs – of any plans to compensate those disadvantaged by the move to be revealed.

The State Government is planning to introduce 19 Marine Protected Areas by 2010. Each will have specific zones, with some declared "no take" zones where fishing activity and access is prohibited.

The MPAs are being established to protect marine ecosystems and ensure the ecologically sustainable use of resources within those areas. Legislation enabling their establishment was introduced into the Upper House by Environment Minister Gail Gago in June and is expected to be debated next month. Once passed, it will enable the establishment of the MPAs, with the zones in each MPA to be decided once each is declared.

As part of the establishment of each MPA an economic impact study will be conducted to determine the effects of any closures or restrictions on activity within the zones.