Gillnet fishery needs work
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.