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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Howard Government has announced it is prepared to commit $10 million toward a structural adjustment scheme for the East Coast Trawl Fishery provided the Beattie Government addresses key issues such as ecological sustainability and fairness to small operators.
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the funding is dependent on the Queensland Government making amendments to its management plan for the fishery.
The management plan will need to cap and reduce effort in a manner that is fair and equitable for the industry as a whole, taking into account matters such as the position of smaller, family run operations.
Commonwealth funding is also dependent on the Queensland government and the commercial fishing industry contributing $10 million each toward the structural adjustment scheme.
Senator Hill says the changes are required to secure both the economic and ecological future of the industry.
"The Commonwealth and Queensland have a responsibility to protect the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. We can meet this responsibility and have a thriving fishing industry provided fishing is managed on a sustainable basis.
"To do this requires a trawl management plan that contains measures such as capping and reduction of effort, closure of non-trawled areas and mandatory use of bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices.
"Unfortunately the Queensland Premier unilaterally abandoned an agreement between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Fisheries Management Authority on such measures.
"Instead Mr Beattie introduced a management plan that was deficient in key respects. For example, despite the fact that the need to cap and reduce effort is broadly accepted by the majority of operators, the Beattie plan contained no cap on effort.
"Mr Beattie has now indicated he is prepared to back down and revise his flawed management plan.
"Provided this revised plan meets the Commonwealth's requirements, we will provide $10 million to assist the industry to restructure. We are particularly concerned that the restructure is fair to smaller trawl operations."
Senator Hill says the Commonwealth's requirements for the management plan and the structural adjustment scheme include:
24 August 2000
Media contact - Matt Brown on 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515.