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Commercial fishermen oppose Coral Sea park -

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Commercial fishermen oppose Coral Sea park

The World Today - Wednesday, 10 September , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Jayne Margetts

ELEANOR HALL: A group of marine scientists is calling on the federal government to ban fishing in a
one-million square kilometre area of the Coral Sea.

The proposal would create the world's largest heritage park, three times the size of the Great
Barrier Reef Marine Park.

But the commercial fishing industry is opposed to the move, it insists the level of fishing in the
Coral Sea is sustainable.

Jayne Margetts has our report.

JAYNE MARGETTS: Australia's portion of the Coral Sea spans a million square kilometres. It lies
immediately East of the Great Barrier Reef and extends as far as the maritime boundary with Papua
New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Professor Terry Hughes is a marine biologist at James Cook University, he says the Coral Sea is one
of the world's few remaining pristine marine areas.

TERRY HUGHES: It's virtually unique in that it's one of the last places in the world where you can
still find significant populations of big things like Billfish and Tuna and Sharks. Most other
places around the world those particular species have been severely depleted.

So there's an opportunity for the Australian Government to create something unique and to look
after the Coral Sea for the future.

JAYNE MARGETTS: Professor Hughes is a member of a group of scientists and environmentalists that
wants fishing banned altogether in the Coral Sea, he says over fishing it the biggest threat to the
world's oceans.

TERRY HUGHES: Many marine stocks have collapsed, until recent times fish stocks always had
somewhere to hide, there was always a refuge that was too far off-shore, too deep, too expensive to
get to, all those barriers have declined and decreased as the demand for seafood has grown
exponentially.

So the idea of 'no take' areas is to artificially reinstate somewhere where the fish have a refuge.
And in that way sustain the world's fisheries.

JAYNE MARGETTS: The commercial fishing industry has hit back at the proposal saying the level of
fishing in the Coral Sea is sustainable.

Robin Hansen is from the Queensland Seafood Industry Association.

ROBIN HANSEN: I wish that they would consult with fisheries more closely because clearly a lot of
the info they are giving out to the public has no relevance at all. It is really a nonsense
position to insinuate that the area is under threat from either fishing or fishing practices within
this state.

And the evidence that we have seen with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is that there is a cost
to commercial fisherman and indeed seafood consumers as to how this impacts on commercial fishing
businesses.

JAYNE MARGETTS: But Imogen Zethoven from the Pew Environment Group says the benefits to the
environment far outweigh the hardship that would be experienced by the fishing industry.

IMOGEN ZETHOVEN: It would impact on a small number of operators who would need some assistance from
the Federal Government but on the other side of the ledger the protection of the area would be a
huge contribution to global marine conservation.

ELEANOR HALL: Imogen Zethoven from the Pew Environment Group ending that report by Jayne Margetts.