Sunday, 2 June 2013

NSW Marine Parks under threat

NSW Marine Parks are under threat as the Liberals push the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill 2013 through parliament to give the Minister for Primary Industries the power to remove existing Marine Parks. 

The Labor Party is proud of establishing the six marine parks in NSW. Only 7% of NSW waters are set aside for marine sanctuaries. Marine Parks are vital. The world's oceans are under threat and the marine sanctuaries provide important feeding and breeding grounds for marine life, particularly our fish stocks. 

The marine parks were established despite the very vocal opposition and outrage from the commercial fishing industry. The commercial fishing industry sees in the short term, marine parks as destroying their industry. However, unless the marine environment is protected and fish stocks are replenished, in the medium and long-term the commercial fishing industry will become even less viable. 

The same applies to recreational fishing. If the marine environment is under threat, that will do little to increase their chances of successfully catching fish for their own consumption. 

Giving the minister the power to remove marine parks with the stroke of a pen is a very real threat to our marine environment. I spoke out against this amendment in parliament saying that we should strengthen our marine environmental protection laws not weaken them. 

In February last year a scientific panel appointed by the government to conduct an independent scientific audit of the marine parks reported there was nothing wrong with the marine parks that had been established. Further the panel recommended that the NSW marine estates be reorganised and be over sighted by independent scientific committee. The government’s response was to appoint committee headed up by an economist. 

Protecting the marine environment should be in the hands of experts who can make decisions without fear or favour, not National Party Ministers who may remove our marine parks to appease vested interests.

The link to the parliamentary debate is here 

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