The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) made a plea to the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to extend the period for submissions on the Marine Park Management Plans to 90 days to allow flood and tornado affected Queenslanders to have their say.
Sunfish Queensland Chief Executive Judy Lynne has contacted ARFF concerned that many thousands of Sunfish Queensland members are affected by the floods and will not be able to get their comments in or are so preoccupied in getting their lives back in order that putting comments into the Government on the Marine Park management plans at this time is the last thing on their mind.
ARFF Managing Director Allan Hansard said 'We have already written to the Minister asking for an extension of the submission period for the Marine Park management plans to 90 days to all more comprehensive stakeholder consultation on the plans. The Queensland flood situation has exacerbated this and made the issue a critical one.
'Queensland has been inundated by floodwaters and ravaged by storms, playing havoc with Internet, phone networks and the lives of thousands of Queenslanders. This has meant that many Queenslanders are unable to provide their submissions to the Government on this important issue in time.
'It is important that Queenslanders are provided every opportunity to provide their comments to the Government as they are planning the biggest marine reserve system in the world on their doorstep. Queenslanders now require the understanding of Minister Burke and the Federal Government in allowing them time to get their lives back in order and consider the plans properly.
'I am also writing to the Queensland Government and other major stakeholders that have been involved in the process to support our call for the consultation period for the Marine Park management plans to be extended to 90 days.
'ARFF is willing to work with the Federal Government to ensure the consultation process for the Marine Park management plans is comprehensive and allows all key stakeholders, including our Queensland stakeholders to constructively input into the development of the plans. But this cannot be done in the short time left and will require the Government to extend the consultation period.
'This is not the time to play politics and cut the consultation period short. Minister Burke needs to do the right thing by the marine environment and the key stakeholders affected by his plan and extend the consultation period to 90 days immediately.'