Marine Parks


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:33): I rise today to talk about a very important, very hot, very topical issue, and that is the implementation of marine parks. Let me just say very clearly again that I am fully in favour of the concept of marine parks. I am on the record; I said that here in parliament on 26 October last year. I have said it many times, as long ago as probably 2½ years ago on radio. The concept of marine parks is very good and I would not actually mind if the whole coastline was a marine park, but we are at the pointy end of this. The key issue is the zoning: where the zones go and what are the exclusions. So we are at that stage now and we are finding out that this is actually a very difficult and very important issue.

Not surprisingly, there is a wide range of scientific opinions on this. It is not hard to find a marine biologist or some other scientist who will tell you that the way the government is progressing at the moment is just right for the environment, just right for society, etc. It is also very easy to find another scientist who will say that it is actually the wrong direction, it is not going to help and it will not achieve the desired outcomes. None of us here are marine biologists or scientists, so we are in the same situation as the normal person on the street, or on the beach or in their boat. Which scientist do you believe?

One recommendation that I have come across, though, which I find very important, is from Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray of Adelaide University, in her report in January this year entitled ‘More than fishy business'. In her conclusion she says very clearly that these marine parks will only be successful if they are fully supported by local communities. Clearly, the government has failed this test already.

Community expressions of concern are running rife and rampant; they are coming from all over the place. I also say this is not just a country issue, not just a coastline issue; this is an all-of-South Australia issue. There are people from all over South Australia sending countless letters to the editor to newspapers, both rural and metropolitan. This is incredibly important to commercial fishers and recreational fishers, obviously, because people who will not be allowed to fish are the ones most immediately impacted upon.

The South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron has said that the implementation of the sanctuary zones as proposed by the government at the moment will actually be dangerous for people in their boats using public waters. There are public meetings all over the state rousing with concerns over this issue and, very importantly, it is not just about people who want to go fishing or want to use the waters directly themselves. This is a very important commercial issue. Fishing shops, tackle shops, boating shops, hospitality businesses, accommodation businesses, and tourism businesses of all sorts will potentially be very dreadfully impacted by this. I would say they would certainly be impacted by this if the sanctuary zones that the government has currently proposed stand.

Tens of millions of dollars at least will be taken out of regional and coastal communities. The cost of seafood will go up, as prominent South Australian Michael Angelakis has said, and we will also have increased imports. I am very concerned about what I see as overzealous environmental protection. Let me state again that I am very supportive of the concept of marine parks; it is where the zones go that counts.

Locking South Australians out of the coastline and the water that belongs to them is a very serious issue. I absolutely hate the idea that the government will come along and just say, 'You can go here. You can't go here. You can do this. You can't do that,' and then suddenly people stop having to think for themselves. Good, honest South Australians, recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, the average family wanting to go to the beach, have their environmental responsibility and their desire to do the right thing taken away from them.

It seems that approximately 20 per cent of the upper Spencer Gulf is going to be dedicated to sanctuary zones. There was a commitment that it would be approximately 10 per cent across all the waters, but 20 per cent in the upper Spencer Gulf is completely unacceptable. I urge the government finally to enter genuine and sincere consultation with people of the upper Spencer Gulf, the fishing industry and people all over this state on this incredibly important issue. What is next? If we keep marching along this road, before you know it people will have to pay to go to the beach.


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