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2012 NORTH FISHING INDUSTRY'S REFINEMENT

The area covered by Government’s North Marine Reserve Network is vast and isolated.

It already poses unique challenges for seafood production and sales; and for families and communities that rely on the seafood industry.

It is in this context that the Fishing Industry has presented its refinements which deliver the right balance between conservation of the marine environment and maintaining a viable fishing fleet to supply seafood to the community.

Many Australians will be unaware of the fact there are such a small number of ports that can sustain viable fishing and aquaculture related infrastructure and services in the remotes areas.

Fixing your boat, putting fuel in it, servicing your engines and refrigeration, unloading, processing and sending your catch to market all, pose a real challenge when you live and work in one of the most isolated parts of the world.

To provide these services you need minimum catch volumes and investment certainty to maintain capacity. The loss of any of these services in a key Northern port will have significant consequences on the commercial viability of fishing companies, and on business and communities relying on them.

The Northern commercial fisheries affected by the proposed marine reserve network have a combined GVP of approximately $140 million and as such make a major economic and social contribution to the region and the nation.

The Government’s proposal for the North:

  • Fails to appreciate the safety concerns and economic impacts of losing access to productive fishing grounds close to important regional ports;
  • Fails to appreciate that in some locations the impact of the reserves will be felt well beyond their boundaries;
  • Fails to appreciate the significant role the Fishing Industry plays in detecting and reporting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing and scientific research in such a vast and isolated area; and
  • Creates business uncertainty by compromising access security.

The Fishing Industry proposal meets regional conservation priorities and significantly reduces the impacts on the Fishing Industry and dependent business and communities. Based on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities own modelling process it will:

  • Protect and represent all provincial bioregions in an area covering 54,563 km2 of our Northern coastal and oceanic waters;
  • Significantly reduces lost fishery development opportunities in the region;
  • Coupled with all the other industry refinements and existing marine reserves, would take Australia's marine reserves to 59% of the coverage of current global marine protected areas and 35% of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone.

Table 1: Comparison - Government and Fishing Industry Refinement Reserve Network Proposals

Category/feature

Commonwealth marine reserve network proposal

Fishing industry marine reserve network proposal

Total network area 121,723 km2 54,563 km2
Area highly protected (IUCN Category II) 18,475 km2 9,657 km2
Proportion of region in network 19.5% 8.72%
Proportion of region highly protected (IUCN Category II) 3.0% 1.54%
BioregionsAll provincial bioregions represented within the network
One meso-scale bioregion not represented within the network:
  • Groote

All provincial bioregions represented within the network
Two meso-scale bioregions not represented within the network:

  • Groote
  • Tiwi
Depth ranges within provincial bioregionsTwo depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions not represented within the network:
  •  Timor Transition

- Shallow waters
- Shallow waters to Shallow
- Shelf Transition

Seven depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions not represented within the network:
  • Timor Transition
- Shallow waters
- Shallow waters to Shallow Shelf Transition
- Shallow Shelf
- Shallow Shelf to Deep Shelf Transition
  • Northern Shelf Province
- Shallow Shelf
- Shallow Shelf to Deep Shelf Transition
  • Northeast Shelf Transition
Key ecological featuresAll key ecological features are represented within the network All key ecological features are represented within the network
Biological seascapes
All biological seascapes are represented within the networkThree biological seascapes are not represented within the network:
  • Biophysical cluster 4
  • Biophysical cluster 11
  • Biophysical cluster 17
Seafloor features (geomorphology)All seafloor features are represented within the networkAll seafloor features are represented within the network
 

Table 2: Comparison primary conservation features: Government and Fishing Industry Refinement

Goal

Primary conservation feature

Total no. within NMR

No. features represented within marine reserve network proposal

No. features represented within fishing industry reserve network proposal

1Provincial Bioregions444
Meso-scale Bioregions151413
2Depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions (Biomes)242217
3Key Ecological Features888
Biological Seascapes202017
4Seafloor types151515
 Total 8683
74

 

Table 3: Comparison for primary conservation feature protected within sanctuary Zone: Government and Fishing Industry Refinement

   

Australian Government proposal

Fishing industry proposal

Goal

Primary conservation feature

Total no. within NMR

No. features represented within Marine National Park Zones

No. features represented within Marine National Park Zones

 1Provincial Bioregions 422
Meso-scale Bioregions1564
 2Depth ranges within Provincial Bioregions (Biomes) 24 4 2
 3Key Ecological Features 821
Biological Seascapes2075
 4Seafloor types 15 8 5
 Total 86 29 19
 Proportion of total number of features  33.7% 22.1%

 

For further detailed comparisons of performance of the North fishing industry refinements and the government’s North marine reserve proposal refer to Attachment B.

Other resources:

Goals and Principles for the Establishment of Networks of Representative Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth Waters Click here

The Government North Marine Region Proposal