Sea Shep­herd helps

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

Habi­tat pro­tec­tion zone Co­ral Sea, ap­prox 150km NE, you can fish, dropline, use crab pots and al­lows fish­ing-re­lated tourism, does not al­low any forms of long lines, trawls and gill­nets. Marine Na­tional Park Zone ap­prox 350 km NE, what is al­lowed: non-fish­ing re­lated tourism, re­search, scuba div­ing and snorkelling and boat. Not al­lowed: All forms of fish­ing, char­ter, com­mer­cial, recre­ational and tourism fish­ing, from hand col­lec­tion to long line, han­d­line, rod and reel, crab and fish pots, trawls and nets. Con­ser­va­tion zone, ap­prox 400km E, cov­ers spe­cific reefs and only al­lows han­d­line rod and reel, hand dive col­lec­tion, non-fish­ing and fish­ing re­lated tourism, scuba, re­search and recre­ational fish­ing. There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent other zones fur­ther south in­clud­ing habi­tat pro­tec­tion zone sea mounts, mul­ti­ple use zone and gen­eral use zone, for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the overview of the pro­posed zones visit www. en­vi­ron­ment.gov.au/coasts/ mbp/re­serves/ THE Sea Shep­herd con­ser­va­tion so­ci­ety has of­fered their fleet of ves­sels, re­sources and ex­per­tise to help pa­trol the Co­ral Sea marine re­serve at no cost to the Aus­tralian tax­payer.

The so­ci­ety, bet­ter known for wag­ing war against Ja­panese whalers, has de­cided to help en­force the marine park and stop for­eign fish­ing ves­sels from “ex­ploit­ing the re­gion’s frag­ile ecosys­tems through poach­ing, over-fish­ing, shark­fin­ing and other il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties”.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion said they would work along­side the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties to de­sign strate­gies, im­ple­ment ap­pro­pri­ate pro­grams and “fa­cil­i­tate pros­e­cu­tion of il­le­gal fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Founder and cap­tain Paul Wat­son said the or­gan­i­sa­tion will work with any govern­ment or local agency to pro­tect their wa­ters.

“We have re­sources and ex­pe­ri­ence un­like those of other con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing world­wide aware­ness and sup­port, on­go­ing pro­gram im­ple­men­ta­tion, me­dia re­la­tions ex­per­tise, train­ing, shark fin­sniff­ing dogs, and ves­sel iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems,” he said.

“We stand ready to put our en­force­ment ex­per­tise to work for Aus­tralia’s Co­ral Sea for the long term.” THE Fed­eral Govern­ment’s Co­ral Sea marine park pro­posal has al­ready cost local busi­nesses well in ex­cess of $100,000 - months be­fore it is set to be de­clared.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Tony Burke last week an­nounced the pro­posal to ex­tend the marine park re­serve into the Co­ral Sea, ban­ning all fish­ing and net­ting, in­clud­ing com­mer­cial and recre­ational char­ters.

Bianca Char­ters is one of the only boats in Port Dou­glas that goes out to the Co­ral Sea for pri­vate char­ters in­clud­ing scuba-div­ing, sci­en­tific re­search, spear-fish­ing and mar­lin fish­ing and owner/op­er­a­tor Peter Sayer said the an­nounce­ment alone has seen him lose busi­ness.

“Since the first day of the an­nounce­ment, we’ve suf­fered can­cel­la­tions worth around $120,000 from in­ter­na­tional guests be­cause it’s a long way to Aus­tralia if we can’t guar­an­tee ac­cess,” he said.

“We have other ar­eas we can work but they’re all fur­ther away and we’ll need to put an­other hun­dred miles into trav­el­ling - that’s an ex­tra 10 to 15 hours travel.”

Mr Burke has said the na­tional marine re­serve bound­aries and zones are set in stone and the only ques­tion is “do we go ahead with the most com­pre­hen­sive marine park net­work in the world or do we not?”

The fi­nal na­tional net­work of marine re­serves looks likely to be de­clared be­fore the end of the year and a 60-day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod is presently tak­ing place and an as­sis­tance pack­age for those af­fected is be­ing dis­cussed.

Far north­ern chair­man of Marine Queens­land Wayne Bayne said the pro­posed as­sis­tance is not enough, con­sid­er­ing the govern­ment spent over $240 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion for the Great Bar­rier Reef marine park in 2004.

“The GBR marine park is 348,000 sq km and this one right around Aus­tralia is about 3.1 mil­lion sq km and they’ve only al­lowed $100 mil­lion,” he said.

“The whole process has got noth­ing to do with pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment it’s purely po­lit­i­cal and they don’t want pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.”

The co­or­di­na­tor of the net­work for sus­tain­able fish­ing Dou­glas re­gion David Cook said the marine park was a waste of re­sources and would pre­fer to see the money spent on im­proved in­shore man­age­ment.

“There’s a lot of tag­ging mar­lin, sword­fish and big tu­nas and they’ve re­cov­ered the same tags in­di­cat­ing a good por­tion do sur­vive and it’s sus­tain­able and doesn’t cause da­m­age,” he said.

“For some minster to say what you’re do­ing is worth­less and dam- ag­ing when in fact it’s pro­vid­ing jobs, foods and is highly sus­tain­able seems ridicu­lous.”

Mr Cook is also wor­ried that if the area is not prop­erly po­liced and with­out reg­u­lar char­ters, there could be an in­crease in il­le­gal fish­ing from for­eign boats.

Cairns and Far North en­vi­ron­ment cen­tre marine cam­paigner Steve Ryan said local busi­nesses will ac­cept the marine re­serve once they ad­just to the changes.

“Claims of a lock out by some in the com­mu­nity have no ba­sis,” Mr Ryan said.

“Only around one third of the Co­ral Sea reefs have been pro­tected from fish­ing un­der this plan, twenty named and some un­named reefs will re­main open to var­i­ous com­mer­cial and recre­ational fish­ing.”

Mr Sayer said the fish­ing in­dus­try will sur­vive the re­stric­tions if the Co­ral Sea marine park is ap­proved, how­ever, it will change the struc­ture of the in­dus­try.

“We’ll sur­vive it, we’ll re­struc­ture our in­dus­try but it’s merely a time and cost fac­tor and we have got to go through the whole process again, putting us back at least five-years,” he said.

“I’ve in­vested close on $2 mil­lion and a five-year re­cov­ery makes you feel like giv­ing up and con­sid­er­ing go­ing to an­other coun­try.”

What is it: The pro­posed Co­ral Sea marine re­serve has dif­fer­ent zones for the con­ser­va­tion of the marine ecosys­tem in the Co­ral Sea. Size of pro­posed re­serve: 989,842 sq km Types of Zones and their re­stric­tions:

Photo by TIM CARRAFA

Of­fered to help: Sea Shep­herd ves­sel The Steve Ir­win

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