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Democrats call for Qld's Fisheries Management to be withdrawn from Reef.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Australian Democrats’ Environment Spokesperson

1 August 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/443

Democrats call for Qld’s Fisheries Management to be withdrawn from Reef Queensland Senator, Andrew Bartlett, the Australian Democrats Spokesperson for the Environment, is calling on the Federal Government to immediately take over management of trawler fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The ongoing failure of the Queensland Government to implement a minimal trawl plan to reduce the amount of trawling in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, cannot be allowed to continue,” said Senator Bartlett.

The Queensland Government had an agreement with the Commonwealth that was to have immediately reduced fishing by up to 15% with additional reductions planned in subsequent years.

Senator Bartlett continued, “Considering the extent of overfishing and the damage being done by trawlers to the sea bottom and to other fish species, the proposed plan was only a small step forward. But just like land clearing, the Queensland Government has failed once again on a significant environmental issue.

“The Queensland Labor Government isn’t interested in protecting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, they’re only interested in milking it - this is unacceptable.”

The Queensland Government, according to Commonwealth sources, changed the agreed plan at the eleventh hour. Originally each trawler was to receive 14 steaming days in addition to their fishing effort allocation. The Queensland Government’s decision now offers each trawler the opportunity to double dip. Trawler operators are now able to ‘save’ their steaming days for fishing by installing a vessel monitoring system that will indicate when a boat is steaming and when it is fishing.

Senator Bartlett explained, “The effect of converting those steaming days to fishing days is to almost totally remove the reduction that the Commonwealth and the State paid $10 million each to accomplish. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and does not reverse the degradation of one of the world’s most significant marine parks.

“The Queensland Government also absolutely refuses to commit to closure of the trawl fishery once the agreed upon cap is reached. Beattie wants to retain discretion to keep the fishery open, but at what cost to the Great Barrier Reef?”

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area belongs to all Australians, not just Beattie and his fishing mates. If the Queensland Government won’t care for and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park then their jurisdiction should be withdrawn, and the Federal Government must immediately accept management of trawling on the Reef,” concluded Senator Bartlett. ENDS

For interview: Senator Bartlett on 0418 743 789 or (07) 3252 7101