Mon, 10 May 2010 - 07:05

Protection of marine life within the Coral Sea

I support the protection of the diverse and unique marine environment of the Coral Sea.  However the Coalition holds deep reservations about how the Government has acted on this issue, particularly given local concerns about a lack of consultation on the initial listing.

The over-riding principle here is that a sensible balance continues between a sustainable ocean environment and the needs of those who live and work with it.  I am mindful of the rights of our fishing and tourism communities that work and rely on these activities for their very livelihoods. 

That is why it is so important that we don’t have a Government that believes it simply has the right to unilaterally over-turn the arrangements that have operated for many years.  Just as farmers respect the land they rely on, so do fisherman and tourist operators understand the importance of preserving the environment in which they operate.

Earlier this year, the Environment Minister announced the Coral Sea Conservation Zone which requires that all existing commercial activities such as fishing, charter boat and tourism operations must gain a Government permit to continue to operate. 

The Conservation Zone was established ahead of the development of a wider marine park, stretching from Cape York to the New South Wales south coast. 

It is absolutely vital that the Government works closely with the community and affected stakeholders on the future of the Coral Sea region.  I support efforts for the continued responsible management of the area.  But I would hold grave concerns if the Government were to fail to consult closely and listen to the views of all affected groups. 

We would oppose moves by Peter Garrett that would disregard the views of other sectors and which fails to take proper account of the values and needs of this vital region.  I therefore look forward to community engagement as planning continues on the long term sustainability of the Coral Sea marine environment.