by Jeni Bone
One very passionate seafood industry proponent, Kristina George, is organising a 'Voice Your Choice' rally against Marine Park Zones, to be held this Sunday 19 in the car park near the boat ramp, Sinbad Street, Cabbage Tree Creek, Shorncliffe Brisbane.
Voice Your Choice and check out the facts at somethingsmellsfishy.com.au
The rally, which is planned as a family day complete with fish and chips and refreshments, will be attended by Queensland Senator Sue Boyce, Senator Ron Boswell and Kerry Millard MP, Member for Sandgate, as well as representatives from the commercial and recreational fishing bodies and the general public.
'Our aim is to send a message to Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, that people want the right to fish in our own waters and eat Australian seafood. We have attracted quite a bit of media attention, including The Courier Mail – which all helps.'
Kristina points out that there is also a recreational campaign www.keepaustraliafishing.com.au that intends to mount an online petition.
'We need 20,000 signatories to table this protest in Parliament. There are lots of us trying and we all need to get together and spread the word and make a stand against the Marine Park Zones. Every little bit helps. I suggest people contact their local member and ‘Voice their Choice’.'
If you are not in Brisbane on Sunday 19 August, you can Tweet your concern or take to Facebook. There is also a petition, available online at www.somethingsmellsfishy.com.au
'The site carries the facts about the PEW Group – who have pushed for this extension of the marine park zones. Australia already imports 72 per cent of its seafood. We can’t allow the Federal Government to lock us out of our waters and our valuable food source.'
According to Kristina, if the marine park zone proposal goes ahead, nowhere will the impact be felt more than in Queensland where Australian fishers will be locked out of the Coral Sea but other nations will still be able to fish in the Coral Sea.
'Australia has the world’s third largest fishing zone - after the United States and France (including all its
territories) - yet we catch fewer fish per head of population than the rest of the world. Australian fisheries are recognised as amongst the healthiest and best managed in the world. In 2009, a Nature article looked at compliance with the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Australia ranked fourth after Norway, the US and Canada.
'This is because Australian fishers have gone to a great deal of trouble to keep their green credentials and their methods are demonstrably sustainable.
'Australia shares the Coral Sea with other nations including New Caledonia, New Guinea and the Solomon
Islands. Unlike Australia, those countries have big fishing industries. New Guinea alone, catches five times more
tuna than Australia’s entire production of fish! If Australia is locked out of the Coral Sea, it will have to import even more fish from countries that do not have the same green credentials and who are not as heavily regulated, countries like New Guinea.'
As she explains, the extended network will have a huge negative impact on Australian consumers. 'They will find it difficult to source Australian wild caught fish, recreational and commercial fishers, fish wholesalers, retailers and
exporters, fishing and charter businesses, pleasure boats, bait and tackle outlets, slipways, marine engines
and marine trades and services along with tourism businesses.'
Environment Minister Tony Burke has asked for comment on whether the extended network of marine parks should go ahead or not. 'It’s critical that people have their say about the Coral Sea by going to firstname.lastname@example.org.'
Kristina also urges people to sign the petition at http://www.voiceyourchoice.com.au/ or Tweet the Minister for the Environment Tony Burke at: @Tony_Burke
'Spread the word, email this to your family and friends and ask them to comment. The Government can proclaim the marine reserves after September 10, 2012. Then there will be no turning back.'