National legal challenge to Marine Reserves underway

Marine Park Zones
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The Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) has announced the development of a national fighting fund and legal challenge to fight the Gillard Government’s marine reserve network decision and associated process.

Chief Executive of the AMA Dean Logan commented, 'This will be the fight of Labor’s life from average Labor voters. Mums, dads, grandparents, sisters, brothers, fish and chip shop owners, marine dealers, local governments, mechanics and fishers of all persuasions have already rallied in historic numbers.

'The handling of this entire process by Minister Burke goes against every Labor party value and cannot go unchallenged. What’s ironic is that this process has nothing to do with the environment at all, but rather smacks of a desperate Government willing to do anything at any cost, in an endeavour to be ‘greener’ than the Greens.'

Examples of how bad this process has becomes include the following:
• IUCN categories have been changed and re-defined without notice;
• Minister Burke claimed the marine bio-regional planning process was a science driven process and
yet told Queensland industry leaders 8 weeks ago that the Coral Sea closure was the price industry
had to pay for ‘deals done in the temperate east’;
• The stakeholder advisory group was decommissioned without notice;
• The scientific reference panel established for the south-east bio-region and supported by industry
was decommissioned without notice;
• The scientific relationship between SEWPaC and BRS is considered by the Government as
‘commercial in confidence’ and so not subject to independent scientific peer review;
• SEWPaC tabled draft management plans for the south-east this week – after 5 years – and two days
prior to the entire marine reserve network being gazetted TODAY;
• 460,000 of the 461,000 submissions received by the Government with regard to the Coral Sea were
deemed computer generated from overseas and yet the Gillard Government proceeded;
• The Coral Sea and broader marine reserve network have not been preceded by the necessary risk
assessments – that is the threats to the environment to warrant such large scale closures have not
been defined and yet fishing is not deemed a threat to bio-diversity;
• The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) associated with the draft marine reserve network was
released well AFTER the announcement and provided not to industry, but leaked to a journalist, and;
• The ABARES socio-economic assessment relating to the marine reserve network and the associated
community, business and social impacts was only released today and utilizes 2006 data.

Mr Logan concluded, 'The AMA has engaged a well known and successful law firm to fight the case. 'Funds placed into a solicitors trust account will build as a national legal team is established with a lawyer from each Australian jurisdiction represented. It will be this team that determines the legal strategy and relevant legal jurisdiction for a challenge against the Commonwealth.

'The current process is an embarrassment for the Gillard Labor-Green Government who whilst shutting rural and regional industries down, do so via a policy process that actually delivers far less for the environment. We should be growing aquatic industries, supporting fisherman, securing investment to create jobs and maintaining a strong food/energy foundation for our nation. Instead both parties refuse to negotiate and so leave industry and the community with only one option,' ended Mr Logan.

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