Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says new research showing how popular marine parks are demonstrates how out of touch the NSW Government’s marine parks moratorium is.
“The marine parks moratorium is nothing more than a product of the O’Farrell – Shooters alliance. It’s a sop to marine science deniers and should be lifted immediately,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“The deal struck between the Premier, the National Party and the Shooters to lift important protections for critically endangered species like the grey nurse shark is completely at odds with what the public wants.
“This research proves just how out of touch the government is on environmental issues.
“Just this week yet more evidence has been released from James Cook University showing that no take areas at the Great Barrier Reef have maintained and increased fish stocks in nearby fishing areas, assisting the fishing industry.
“The Commonwealth’s new marine parks have a massive 70 percent majority support. Meanwhile, Premier O’Farrell is letting extreme fringe groups control environment policy. This is an insult to the people of NSW,” said Ms Faehrmann.
The Panel established to audit NSW marine parks have given their recommendations to the Government after an exhaustive public consultation process. The Government has embarked on yet another round of public comments on the recommendations before they decide whether to act on them. The Panel has told the Government that there are still gaps in the system of marine parks in NSW. In my submission I reiterate the call for an immediate lifting of the regressive moratorium on marine parks as well as urgent protection for grey nurse shark critical habitat sites.
Independent Scientific Audit on Marine Parks Recommendations
Responses needed by 30th June.
I know we are suffering marine park submission fatigue but the NSW Government needs to keep hearing the message that marine parks are important, are supported by local communities, that they work and that we need more of them. Our motivation must match that of marine park opponents.
Some matters you may want to raise in your submission:
That you strongly agree with the Panel recommendation that the current system of marine parks as established in NSW be maintained and mechanisms be found for enhancing the protection of biodiversity in the identified gaps.
That you agree marine parks are needed in the Hawkesbury and Twofold Shelf marine bioregions.
The establishment of marine parks receives solid support from an overwhelming majority of the Australian scientific community.
Australia has long standing international obligations to establish a system of protected areas.
NSW committed to the implementation of a National Representative System for Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA) in 1998.
There is substantial evidence worldwide and from Australia that marine parks and reserves are effective at conserving biodiversity, particularly where extractive uses are excluded.
That the Government should immediately remove the current moratorium on new marine parks to achieve this – noting the Panel statement that the…recommendations made in this report do not in any way preclude the possibility of new marine protected areas being proposed in NSW.
That you want to see the government enact immediate 1500m sanctuary zones at the grey nurse shark’s small critical habitat sites along the NSW coast.
That you agree with the Audit’s comment that “NSW has an opportunity to establish a management framework for its Marine Estate that will future-proof it against public policy failure and natural catastrophe, while at the same time providing for a balanced and equitable system of the management of all the demands we place on the resources of the NSW Marine Estate”.
That you believe the Panel’s recommendation for governance of the NSW Marine Estate to be reorganised by bringing the entire estate under one legislative and administrative structure requires further consideration because there is also strong merit in separation between the agency that has the mandate to regulate for conservation and the agency that regulates resource use.
That you agree there would be benefits to establishing an independent Scientific Committee to provide guidance on managing the NSW Marine Estate. Given the scope of research required to fill our knowledge gaps concerning marine species and ecological systems and the fundamental importance of research to underpin sound decisions on marine resource use, the establishment of an independent Scientific Committee is a sensible strategy.
That you agree with the Panel’s recommendation for research into the threat fishing poses to the conservation of biodiversity in NSW and the environmental protected values of the Marine Estate.
That you agree with the need to extend the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) system to include a greater focus on marine, estuarine and inshore environments (R5).
There are significant knowledge gaps that should be filled including: better information on the ecosystem effects of fishing and the integration of this information into the annual stock assessment of commercial and recreational fishing; and recreational fishing (including distribution of effort, catch, discards of by-catch and ecosystem impacts) must be evaluated and the results of that incorporated into marine park management.
That you agree with the Panel recommendation that local Indigenous knowledge and expertise be explicitly incorporated into the establishment and ongoing management of NSW marine parks and the NSW Marine Estate and the establishment of an Aboriginal Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Cadet Program in each marine park.
That you agree with the Panel recommendation for the NSW Government to mandate better integration of land-use planning regulations with the NSW Marine Estate and marine park management.
That you look forward to the Government immediately revoking the moratorium on new marine parks and sanctuaries as an immediate first step towards ecologically responsible management of the state’s marine estate.
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says serious wounds to a critically endangered grey nurse shark demonstrate the need for better shark protection at the Byron Bay shark haven Julian Rocks.
Local divers are concerned for a grey nurse shark with a severely dislocated jaw embedded with fishing hooks and rope wrapped around its tail. They have suggested it needs to be euthanased.
“This species is so endangered that every death is significant,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Julian Rocks is one of the critically endangered grey nurse shark’s aggregation sites declared critical for the species’ survival. Hook and line fishing is a major threat to the species.
“The horrific injuries this shark is suffering show protection for the grey nurse is inadequate.
“Conservationists and the Greens are calling for 1500m sanctuary zones extending from the perimeter of the underwater rock gutters where the sharks live at each of its critical aggregation sites,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Katrina Hodgkinson, Minister for Primary Industries, was recently handed the results of consultation on grey nurse sharks which said 82% of respondants support grey nurse shark protection.
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says the government is delaying its response to its long awaited marine science audit, released today, because it tells us what it doesn’t want to hear: that marine parks work and we need more.
The Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks was established by the NSW Government in June last year and the report can be downloaded here. One recommendation (Page ix) suggests new protections are necessary in two key gap areas – the Hawkesbury and Twofold Shelf marine bioregions.
“Now that its long-awaited report is telling them the ‘inconvenient truth’ that the science behind marine parks is justified we see more stalling tactics from the government. This is nothing short of disgraceful,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Ever since the election the government has been attacking the science behind marine parks.
“Now that its independent scientific audit has finally been released, it’s hardly surprising that it has found that marine parks are valuable and they work and we need more of them. What is surprising is the government’s refusal to acknowledge that the report states this without question.
“To now put this report out to another public consultation until June is a disgraceful move by the government and designed to delay the inevitable – the lifting of the moratorium on marine parks.
“The government must immediately overturn the moratorium and instead focus on how they can guarantee a sustainable future for NSW marine areas.
“This is not an issue we can afford to delay on anymore. If we want a viable recreational and commercial fishing industry into the future we need to protect key areas to maintain healthy fish stocks,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says that the NSW Government should take the advice of the five trawler operators from Nelson Bay who have declared their practice environmentally damaging, and move to ban trawling in the state’s marine parks.
“Trawling is nothing less than land clearing with bulldozers and chains at the bottom of the ocean. It kills fish and destroys habitat indiscriminately. It has no place in a marine park,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“If trawling is allowed to continue in key sensitive areas we are going to see a rapid decline of marine life. Both the commercial and recreational industries will suffer.
“While the federal government and the rest of the world is moving ahead on marine protection, this government is taking NSW backwards. Winding back measures at Solitary Islands and Jervis Bay Marine Parks that reduced the areas available for trawling is just one example of this.
“Now even trawlers are seeing the writing on the wall, but the NSW Government is more interested in appeasing extremists in the fishing lobby.
“The NSW Government is dragging its heels and trying to avoid taking action. Their much trumpeted but unnecessary scientific review into marine parks is now late.
“Meanwhile, trawling continues to destroy vital habitat for marine life.
“The NSW Government must heed this warning from within the industry and ban trawling in all marine parks,” said Ms Faehrmann.