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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 8995

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (11:19): In addressing the Fisheries Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012, I am delighted to offer the opposition's support. This bill essentially does two things. Firstly, it opens up the potential for comprehensive electronic monitoring of fisheries catch and processes. What that means in practice is that it offers the potential (a) for better knowledge, (b) for faster knowledge, but (c) for decreased costs for the fisheries community. People would say, 'How can that be the case?' It is because of the cost of observers who will be on board vessels, which ultimately is largely passed through to individual fishers. That means, at a cost of potentially $1,000 a day for an observer, we can, in relatively short order, remove and rebate the effect of having to build in the e-monitoring capability. Therefore there is greater reliability and reduced costs in the medium term at the very least and certainly in the long term for fishers, and that is a good thing. So we have better, faster information and ultimately a more efficient approach, which should be good for fishers.

The second thing the bill does is to give AFMA the potential to waive levies for fishermen under certain circumstances. That is a good thing. It is all about recognising the circumstances of individual fishers. I have dealt with AFMA on behalf of my local shark fishers at San Remo over a number of years. There have been elements of process where, frankly, I have to say that I think there has been a great degree of inflexibility and lack of recognition of circumstances on the ground. In particular, Steve Brockwell has been a community leader in the fishing community at San Remo and his work ought to be commended. On some occasions it has been a little bit like The Castle—he has been taking on the great authorities and on most occasions he has won. At the moment he has concerns about activities which would allow for a change in net size, which would disadvantage local fishers and potentially have impacts on the environment.

That brings me to two other issues which are absolutely fundamental to our approach to this bill. In good faith, we give our support to the Fisheries Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012. However, we feel there has been bad faith towards the recreational fishing community with the way the government has dealt with its wholesale blanket bans on fishing in certain marine protected areas, or the plan to list all marine protected areas. Dean Logan of the Australian Marine Alliance has spent a lot of time working with the government and the opposition. He is a very credible spokesperson. His view has been that there has been no real opportunity for the fishing community to have a say. There has been a sham consultation but no dialogue, no engagement where their views are taken on board. I saw this with the blanket bans that were applied to the New South Wales coast under the previous minister for the environment. They were subsequently removed, and I can see the same mistakes occurring again. In government, we would review this process on a science-based analysis looking to the areas where we need to protect breeding grounds rather than wholesale lockouts of the fishing community. Let me be clear, precise and absolute on that.

The flip side, of course, is the diversity—this brings me to the third point—where recreational fishers are being locked out, but the super trawler Margiris is being invited in. I have looked pretty closely at this issue and I know there is a healthy debate. But what we see there—whether it is the Tasmanian tuna fishing association, Professor Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia or Dean Logan of the Australian Marine Alliance—is a deep concern that the intent of this bill is being undermined by the Margiris decision and the Margiris decision is in completely the opposite direction from the treatment of domestic recreational fishers.

The facts are that there will be a 300-metre-long net, 80 metres by 35 metres wide at the opening. When a smaller version was used in 2004, 14 dolphins were caught. There is still a risk to dolphins and seals, even though there has been an improvement in the technology. We say that there needs to be an independent scientific panel to assess the impacts over and above what has already occurred. This should be an independent scientific panel to assess the sustainability of the Margiris super trawler in Australian waters. It comes as the same time as recreational fishers are being locked out.

Against that background, we are happy to show good faith and support this bill, but we do not believe that the government is showing good faith to recreational fishers. It must appoint an independent scientific panel in relation to the Margiris.