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2012 NORTH-WEST FISHING INDUSTRY'S REFINEMENT

The history of Western Australia’s vast and remote North-west is entwined with the pearling and commercial fishing industry.

In terms of Australia’s food security, the North-west has always supplied a significant amount of the seafood we eat, and in the future there is the very real prospect of sustainably supplying more seafood from existing and new wild-caught fisheries and the burgeoning aquaculture industry to meet the nation’s increased demand for seafood, noting that Australia already imports 70% of its seafood.

The Fishing Industry acknowledges that Energy Security Policy has obviously been an over-arching consideration of the Government in the North-west draft reserves. However it does not accept the disproportionate impact of the proposed reserve boundaries and zoning which avoids the prospectivity and lease areas for the petroleum and exploration industry regardless of the conservation values in those areas.

The Government’s proposal for the North-west:

  • Calls for 35% of one region to be included in the marine reserve network;
  • Disproportionately impacts the Fishing Industry in comparison to other uses like the oil and gas industry;
  • Will reduce the market value and security of fishing access entitlements;
  • Will increase costs and safety risks;
  • Could render some operations unviable due to a reduction in income;
  • 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 and fear of future re-zoning arrangements.

The Fishing Industry is proposing a number of refinements to the North-West Marine Reserve Network which will ensure the viability of fishing, pearling and aquaculture businesses and based on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities own modelling process will:

  • Meet the Government’s stated Goals and Principles for achieving a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas;
  • Create a marine reserve network area equivalent to three times the size of Tasmania;
  • Cover an area representing 19% of the North-west marine bioregion, with over 12% of this area in highly protected areas;
  • 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.
  • Recognise the needs of other marine resource users such as the recreational fishing, oil and gas sectors;
  • Significantly reduce the disproportionate impacts on the fishing industry; and
  • Still provides room for fisheries development into the future and flexibility in responding to climate change.

Table 1: Comparison - Fishing Industry v Government Reserve Network Proposals

 

Government

Industry

Total network area377, 297 km2203 725 km2
Area highly protected (IUCN Category II)123 528 km225 659 km2
Proportion of region in network35%19.08%
Proportion of region highly protected (IUCN II)11.6%2.4%
Proportion of continental shelf in network33.5%19.43%
BioregionsAll provincial and meso-scale bioregions are represented within the network.All provincial and all but one of the mesoscale bioregions are represented within the network.
Depth ranges within provincial bioregionsAll but one of the depth ranges within
bioregions are represented within the network.
All but four of the depth ranges within bioregions are represented within the network.
Key ecological featuresAll but three of the 13 key ecological
features are represented within the network.
All but four of the key ecological features are represented within the network.
Biological seascapesAll of the biological seascapes are represented within the network.All of the biological seascapes are represented within the network.
Seafloor features (geomorphology)All of the 19 seafloor features are
represented within the network.
Eighteen of the 19 seafloor features are
represented within the network.

 

Table 1 above illustrates that, when the whole network is considered irrespective of zoning, the fishing industry refined network captures essentially the same number of conservation features than the Government draft proposal.

Table 2 below provides a more detailed summary of the comprehensiveness of each of the two proposed networks, that is, the degree to which they include the conservation features required under the Goals and Principles for the  Establishment of Networks of Representative Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth Waters7.


Table 2: Number of features protected within the NW proposed and industry refined networks

   

Fishing Industry Network

Government Proposal

Goal
Primary Conservation FeatureTotal No.Features
Represented within
Network
Features Represented
within Network
1Provincial Bioregions (PB)888
Meso-scale Bioregions (MB)111011
2Depth by PB82
7881
3Key ecological features131010
3Biologically Informed
Seascapes
202020
4Seafloor types191819
 Total 153144149
 Proportion 94.1%97.39%

 

 
Other resources:

The Government North-West Marine Region Proposal 

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

The Government North-west Marine Region Proposal