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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17569

Mr LINDSAY (9:43 AM) —The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is currently embarked on a very significant rezoning of Australia's marine park. The Great Barrier Reef is an icon of the world, and it is important that that icon be protected from all of the pressures that it suffers from modern living. A draft plan has been released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for comment by users of the reef system. Submissions will be required to be received by the authority by the end of the first weekend in August. I am encouraging every user to have a look at the draft plan and, if they would like to make some alternative recommendations, to suggest them to the marine park authority.

Last night in Townsville there was a public meeting of recreational fishermen. About 800 attended the entertainment centre. I am sorry that I was unable to be there because parliament was sitting and my duty is of course to be in Canberra when parliament is sitting. However, I encourage the fishermen to put in a submission. If they feel that a little fishing area where they like to fish has been excluded from the current draft plan, if they can give a good reason why fishing there should be allowed, they should make that point to the marine park authority.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has said all along that it will try to balance the needs of all of the users, consistent with the protection of the barrier reef for the next several centuries. To that end, the marine park authority listened to fishermen and included in the draft plan a significant number of yellow zones. That allows recreational fishermen to fish, but not commercial fishermen. That is a sign of the authority's good faith. The authority will continue to operate in good faith, and there is every reason for fishermen to have confidence when putting a logical argument to the authority and expecting it to be included in the final plan.

I am disappointed that the state government of Queensland is yet to make clear either its position on the draft plan or what it might do with the waters that it, not the federal government, controls. The state government must make its position clear, and it must do so quickly, because that might influence the suggestions that respondents might want to put to the authority about how the final plan might be composed. The way ahead is for me to encourage all the users of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to make their views known to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.