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2012 EAST FISHING INDUSTRY'S REFINEMENT

 

CORAL SEA INDUSTRY REFINEMENT

The Coral Sea Marine Reserve as proposed by the Fishing Industry is a massive 958,023 sq kms – an area twice the size of the world’s largest existing marine reserve.

Nearly 20% of this area will exclude all commercial fishing.

When you add the Coral Sea, to other industry refinement proposals for the Temperate East, South-west, North-west and North marine networks and existing marine reserves, you end up with a staggering 2,893,217 sq km of Australia’s marine environment under protection.

This is greater than the combined land area of Western Australia and Victoria.

The combined total equates to 35% of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and would represent 59% of the coverage of current global marine protected areas.

 The Fishing Industry’s Coral Sea submission (Page 15) raises the issue of the Minister for Sustainability, Environment Water Population and Communities public statements regarding the big opportunities for iconic protection in the Coral Sea and strongly questions whether the quest for an “iconic” marine reserve network can be considered consistent with the Government’s published Goals and Principles for the establishment of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas -that are focused on the identification of representative areas for inclusion in marine reserves.

In designing a Coral Sea reserve proposal aimed at leaving a lasting conservation legacyi, industry suggest government be mindful of the legacy they risk leaving to the Australian community and the fishing industry.

That is, an overly ambitious “feel good” conservation agenda for the region that comes at an unnecessarily high cost to the already strongly regulated fishing industry, regional economies, and Australian consumers who want to eat local seafood.

The Government’s proposal for the Coral Sea:

  • Calls for 100% of one region to be included in the marine reserve network;
  •  Will immediately close some well managed and sustainable fishing businesses;
  • Is likely to render some well managed and sustainable businesses unprofitable due to being forced to travel longer distances resulting in less fishing time, reduced catch rates and increased fuel costs and CO2 emissions;
  • Fails to appreciate that resource access security is a fundamental driver for improved sustainability and profitability in commercial fisheries. And how the uncertainty created around resources access undermines confidence in the industry and reduces investment and innovation.
  • Fails to appreciate the valuable service provided, free of charge, by the fishing industry in reporting illegal fishing and collecting scientific data in such a remote area;
  • Fails to explain the plans and costs (to taxpayers) on how they will manage, research, enforce and monitor a massive new remote marine reserve; and
  • Fails to address the impacts of this new reserve on seafood supply to Australian consumers now and in the future.

The Fishing Industry’s refinements will:

  • Cover an area representing 96.79% of the Coral Sea region; almost 20% of which will be closed to commercial fishing.
  • Create the world’s largest marine reserve.
  • Create a marine reserve that alone is almost twice the size of the world’s largest existing reserve;
  • Protects all the key ecological features, provincial bioregions and seafloor types either covered or specified by the government proposal.
  • Reduces the adverse impacts on some commercial fisheries and regional communities.
  • Reduces the adverse impacts on seafood supply to Australians and for export.

 

Comparison: Industry refined and Government draft Coral Sea Reserve

 

Commonwealth marine reserve network proposal

Fishing industry marine reserve network proposal

Total network area989,842 km2958,023 km2
Area highly protected (IUCN Category II)507,487 km2182,525 km2
Proportion of region in network100%96.79%
Proportion of region highly protected (IUCN Category II)51.27%18.44%
Proportion of network on continental shelfN/A N/A
Bioregions

All provincial bioregions represented within the network

All provincial bioregions represented within the network

Depth ranges within provincial bioregions

All depth ranges within bioregions are represented within the reserve

One depth range within Provincial Bioregions not represented within the network:

  • Central Eastern Transition

 -Shelf Edge to Shallow Upper Slope Transition

Key ecological features

All key ecological features are represented within the network

All key ecological features are represented within the network

Biological seascapes NANA

Seafloor features (geomorphology)

All seafloor features are represented within the network

All seafloor features are represented within the network

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1: Comparative performance of fishing industry refinements and government’s Coral Sea marine reserve proposal

 

 

THE TEMPERATE EAST INDUSTRY REFINEMENT

Commercial fishers operating in the Temperate East region are the major suppliers of very fresh local fish to the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

The Gross Value of Production (GVP) of Temperate East wild catch fisheries is estimated at approximately $368 million. Based on a 2009 World Bank studyii which found that around 80% of the total value of wild catch seafood production is created during activities through the processing and supply chain, this GVP figure significantly under-estimates both the over all economic value of these fisheries, and their broader socio-economic contribution to the region.

In developing the industry refinement proposal for their region, the fishers remain very concerned that their fisheries, rigorously assessed by Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries, are considered as high risk, regardless of the very specific and significant management arrangements while the risks and mitigation strategies associated with non-fishing activities and industry sectors are not addressed in any detail.

It should be noted that only eight of the 41 pressures (or risks) rated as of concern in the draft Marine Bioregional Plan for the Temperate East Marine Region relate to fishing (combined commercial, recreational, indigenous). The other 33 pressures (or risks) come from non-fishing activities and industry sectors and have the potential for much greater impacts on conservation values in the region.

The Government’s proposal for the Temperate East:

  • Calls for 25.30% of this one region to included in the marine reserve network;
  • Will most likely force the closure of some sustainable and well-managed fisheries;
  • Fails to appreciate the safety concerns, economic impacts (including increased CO2 emissions) of losing access to productive fishing grounds close to important regional ports;
  • Fails to appreciate the major contribution the fishing industry makes, free of charge, to research and by reporting illegal fishing; and
  • Creates business uncertainty by compromising access security.

 

The Fishing Industry Proposal:

  • Delivers all the conservations objectives of the government proposal to this region;
  • Covers an area representing 16.56% of the region;
  • Greatly reduces adverse impacts on the fishing industry and regional communities;
  • Significantly reduces the lost fishery development opportunities in the region;
  • Works to secure the supply of seafood to Australians and internationally;
  • Represents an aggregate, least cost, fishing industry position; and
  • Raises major concerns over the Fishing Gear Risk Assessment (FGRA) commissioned for the region. Through an independent review the industry highlights significant shortcomings across areas of policy, method and process.

 

Comparison – Industry Refinement and Government draft Temperate East reserve network

Conservation features and reserve characteristics

Commonwealth marine reserve network proposal

Fishing industry marine reserve network proposal

 

Total network area

371,114 km2

242,966 km2
Area highly protected (IUCN Category II) 63,241 km252,607 km2

Proportion of region in network

25.30 per cent

16.56 per cent

Proportion of region highly protected
(IUCN Category II)

4.31 per cent

3.59 per cent

Proportion of network on continental shelf

0.8 per cent

0.9 per cent

Bioregions

Three provincial bioregions are not represented within the network:

  • Central Eastern Transition
  • Kenn Transition
  • Southeast Transition

Two provincial bioregions are not represented within the network:

  • Central Eastern Transition
  • Kenn Transition
 

Depth ranges within provincial bioregions

36 depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions are not represented within the network

33 depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions are not represented within the network

Key ecological features

All key ecological features are represented within the network

All key ecological features are represented within the network

 

Biological seascapes

Four biological seascapes are not represented within the network

Four biological seascapes are not represented within the network

Seafloor features (geomorphology)

 

Two seafloor features are not represented within the network

Six seafloor features are not represented within the network

Table 1: Comparative performance of fishing industry refinements and government’s Temperate East marine reserve proposal

 

Other resources:

The Government Coral Sea Marine Region Proposal
http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/coralsea/index.html

 

The Government Temperate East Marine Region Proposal
http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east/index.html


 

i The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Address to National
Press Club, August 24 2011

ii World Bank Report: The Sunken Billions: Economic justification for fisheries reform (2009). Available at
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTARD/Resources/336681-1224775570533/SunkenBillionsFinal.pdf