The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

Supporting recreational fishing while protecting our marine parks

Joint Media release
14 December 2013

The Coalition Government is delivering a key election promise by scrapping Labor's plan to lock out recreational fishers from key coastal areas around the country. We are protecting the marine reserves but rejecting the flawed plans.

The Government has acted to prevent Labor's flawed marine management plans from locking out fishers. All Commonwealth marine reserves and parks will remain, as will their boundaries but the management plans will be redeveloped.

The Governor-General has reproclaimed the new Commonwealth marine reserves. This invalidates the management plans signed off by Labor and stops the exclusion zones that would have come into effect next July, while keeping the parks and their boundaries - exactly as we committed.

The Government will create new management plans to protect the marine environment, based on science and in consultation with stakeholders and local communities.

The Government does not support locking out large areas of oceans to prevent fishers from taking out a boat and casting a line.

"Labor's proposed changes would have meant it would be against the law for recreational fishers to cast a line at some of their favourite fishing spots across the country," said Minister Hunt.

"The Coalition is adopting a balanced approach that will protect the marine environment while still ensuring a sustainable seafood resource and access for recreational anglers," said Senator Colbeck.

"Labor's plan was going to hurt tourism and commercial fishing operations."

"The Government remains committed to marine parks and the external boundaries of the new marine reserves remain unchanged," said Minister Hunt.

"I have asked my department to begin work on a Marine Reserves Review to consider what management arrangements will best protect marine ecosystems and accommodate the many industries and recreational fishers that use our oceans."

The review has two components:

  • the appointment of an expert scientific panel to look closely at the science supporting the current marine reserves
  • the establishment of Bioregional Advisory Panels to facilitate and improve consultation with stakeholders

The make-up of the panels and their terms of reference will be announced in early 2014.

Until the new management plans come into effect, there will be no "on the water" changes. The 25 reserves that predated last year's extension of the Commonwealth marine reserve network will continue to operate under their current arrangements.

Greg Hunt

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