17 October, 2014

Marine Estate Management Bill would give Fisheries Minister veto power over future marine parks

The Baird Government has unveiled plans to give the Primary Industries Minister unprecedented powers to veto any plans to create new marine parks in NSW.

The Marine Estate Management Bill 2014, which was tabled yesterday in the NSW Legislative Assembly, seeks to repeal the Marine Parks Act 1997.

“We acknowledge the Bill seeks to institute a holistic approach to management of marine resources, which we applaud,” said Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Daisy Barham.

“We also welcome the continued prohibition on mining in marine parks and the inclusion of the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

“However, this Bill would also put the needs of the environment in the hands of the Primary Industries Minister, who has displayed a reckless disregard for marine conservation.

“This is the minister who has allowed fishing in protected marine sanctuaries, closed the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre, and overturned conservation plans that took years of community negotiation to finalise.

“This proposal is like letting the Resources and Energy Minister determine when and where we should declare national parks.

“The Bill has largely been written in secret with few opportunities for the public to directly influence the outcome. It was introduced to parliament after less than three hours of stakeholder consultation back in March.

“We expected more from a government led by Mike Baird, a self-proclaimed lover of the ocean.

“Indeed, this government has systematically wound back protection for our oceans. It’s a bit hard for the Minister to claim that the new bill is designed to increase protection of our important marine ecosystems while the government allows fishing from beaches and headlands in marine sanctuaries.

"Protection of our most important marine areas enjoys almost universal support in the community,” Ms Barham said.

“A Galaxy poll in 2014 found 93 per cent of people in NSW support marine sanctuaries, while support among recreational fishers was only slightly less, at 91 per cent.”

Key concerns:

  • For the first time, the Minister for the Environment will need the concurrence of the Minister for Primary Industries before declaring marine parks.
  • There was very poor consultation in developing this Bill - only one three-hour meeting with stakeholders in March this year.
  • The Bill contains proposals to reduce the consultation period for the declaration of new marine parks from 90 days to 60 days. This contradicts the government’s stated desire to improve consultation on marine management issues.


Marine Conservation

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