Gill­net fish­ery needs work

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FEEDBACK -

The re­cent de­ci­sion on dump­ing in the Ma­rine Park is al­low­ing an­other hotly con­tested but less glam­orous GBRMPA de­ci­sion to pass un­no­ticed by the me­dia. Mem­bers of Cook­town, Dou­glas and Cairns Lo­cal Ma­rine Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tees are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed with the re­cent GBRMPA draft plan­ning documents re­leased for pub­lic com­ment. These out­line ma­rine park is­sues and plans for the next 25 years. I have re­signed from the LMAC process to make pub­lic state­ments on the topic. While the Aus­tralian seafood in­dus­try claims to be among the most sus­tain­able in the world, there is one no­table ex­cep­tion: the gill­net fish­ery on our doorstep. Full-time commercial net­ters are not the prob­lem. It is the Third World level of fish­eries man­age­ment that needs fix­ing. Gill­net­ters, like farm­ers, need to be given the chance to man­age their­patch as a sus­tain­able fish­ery. For years the LMACs have been ad­vis­ing GBRMPA that large iconic in­shore species are at risk of per­ma­nent lo­calised de­ple­tions. The author­ity fails to ac­knowl­edge the is­sue in their lat­est plan­ning documents. War­ren Entsch MP, please would you ask our Federal Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment to en­sure GBRMPA add these con­cerns to their Strate­gic As­sess­ment and Plan­ning Re­port and re­sub­mit them to the pub­lic for fur­ther com­ment? To do any­thing less im­plies that the LMAC process is a waste of time and money. Funds may be bet­ter spent on im­prov­ing our in­shore fish­eries. War­ren, I am aware you are con­stantly re­minded that we are tak­ing only a frac­tion of the pro­duc­tion from our GBRMP wa­ters as do Asians from theirs. Based on this ob­ser­va­tion, some ad­vo­cates claim our fish­ery must be over-reg­u­lated. This is non­sense. Many Asian coun­tries fish the en­tire fish­eries food chain or "pyramid" from top to bot­tom. I know be­cause I have worked in these fish­eries. Aus­tralian seafood mar­kets ac­cept just part of the top of that pyramid, a few of the up­per level preda­tors, plus a very few species lower down the food chain. It is that sim­ple. Please, War­ren, would you bring these mat­ters to the at­ten­tion of Greg Hunt as a mat­ter of some ur­gency? May I take this op­por­tu­nity to say how hum­bled and proud I am to have been a part of the Port Dou­glas Shire Rally to Save the Reef on Sun­day. With over 600 adult sig­na­tures col­lected on the day alone, the turnout was phenom­e­nal, with friends from near and far will­ing to take to the streets to voice their con­cerns. All to pro­tect the largest liv­ing thing on this planet, one of the seven won­ders of the world, so large it is ad­mired by as­tro­nauts and gods. We are a hon­oured and priv­i­leged to be its cus­to­di­ans. We have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity. The Reef is in dan­ger, there is no doubt. Al­ready strug­gling from for­eign in­vaders and runoff from agri­cul­ture, the plan for a su­per coal high­way and to dump dredge within the Ma­rine Park is lu­nacy. We are threat­en­ing our World Her­itage List­ing and there­fore our very liveli­hoods. We are not op­posed to de­vel­op­ment, but de­vel­op­ment does not have be in­evitable when it threat­ens the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Com­pro­mise must be found. Thank-you to all the speak­ers who of­fered in­tel­li­gent and tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions, to the Mayor who im­parted her pas­sion­ate and in­fec­tious love for our en­vi­ron­ment. May I also thank the or­gan­is­ers, Kevin, Rosie, Ella, An­gelique and Kim (and any I’ve missed), the indige­nous elders, the lo­cal me­dia, all the other red-shirted vol­un­teers and fi­nally but never least, the lo­cal com­mu­nity with their big hearts, who, bat­tered by rain and sun stood with their spir­its blaz­ing to pro­tect the reef. Re­mem­ber the words of Mar­garet Mead, "Never be­lieve that a few car­ing people can’t change the world. For, in­deed, that’s all who ever have". To con­tinue to fight please join us on the Cairns Es­planade, Sun­day 6th April at 11:30am. Please do­nate to Tan­garoa Blue www.tan­garoablue.org, CAFNEC www.cafnec.org, Dou­glas Shire Sus­tain­abil­ity Group www.dssg.org.au and the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fend­ers Of­fice NQ www.edo.org.au, who re­ceived all do­na­tions on Sun­day to as­sist their very ex­cit­ing cam­paign to cre­ate a le­gal iden­tity for the Reef in or­der to pro­tect it.

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