The Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) today highlighted that the relationship between the Australian Greens, Gillard Government and Australian industry had reached an historic policy low.
Chief Executive of the AMA Dean Logan, 'Within days of the announcement to close millions of sq/kms of ocean and the Coral Sea to Australian fisherman of all persuasions - on the basis of protecting the environment - the massive USA tuna purse-seine fleet has agreed to pay Pacific Island countries USD$630 million dollars to catch in-excess of 4 times Australia’s total fish production, in the same region.
'The policy dynamic here is nothing short of mind-blowing and one of the most stark examples of policy failure and hypocrisy in Australian environmental policy and fisheries management history.'
Summary of concerns:
• The Government has not identified a single threat to substantiate large-scale marine closures;
• Australia imports in-excess of 70% of its seafood and yet compensation for consumers and how to address our food security concerns has not been addressed in any way;
• Within days of closing millions of sq/kms of ocean to fisherman the Gillard Government issued hundreds of new oil and gas leases throughout the same Australian marine environment and yet the only form of extractive effort that is effectively managed, is sustainable fishing;
• The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) associated with the draft marine reserve network was released well AFTER the announcement and was not provided to industry, but leaked to a journalist;
• The ABARES socio-economic assessment relating to the marine reserve network and the associated community, business and social impacts, is still not completed;
• No one knows when the 60 day consultation period will start because the Government has yet to indicate when the draft marine reserve process will be gazzetted, and;
• Department officials are talking to industry about ‘buy-outs’ and ‘structural adjustment’ and yet are unable to answer the most basic of questions from industry leaders.
Mr Logan continued, 'If this wasn’t so serious it would definitely be an episode on ‘Yes, Minister’!
'The script would go something like this: In one breath The Rt. Hon James (Jim) Hacker MP is convinced by Sir Humphrey to ask the nations fisherman to ‘trust him’ because ‘he cares for the environment and loves aquariums’.
All the while the massive USA tuna purse-seine fleet slip under the radar and cut a USD$630 million dollar deal that renders Hacker’s passionate environmental announcement, impotent.
'This decision proves that the overwhelming weight of international scientific opinion around sustainable resource allocation in the Pacific is not as Minister Burke has consistently argued, but rather that there is room for increased sustainable exploitation of pelagic fish, like tuna, for food security purposes.
'Additionally why has the Gillard Government and Greens sided with USA based environmental NGO’s to specifically target Australian fisherman and not the USA tuna purse-seine fleet who will most certainly look to secure a substantial return on their USD$630M investment?
'Moreover, given this decision and the removal of almost all forms of efficient seafood extraction by Australian fisherman in the region, how does Labor and the Greens now justify the $6.25 million p/a allocated to help Pacific Island countries to address illegal fishing and ecosystem destruction?' ended Logan.
More at www.australianmarinealliance.com.au