Boost for Sunshine Coast’s critical fishing industry
Owners of the Sunshine Coast’s commercial fishing fleet, the largest on the Eastern coast of Australia, are celebrating this week following the passing of the Federal Government’s marine parks management plan. The new plan, passed by the Senate yesterday, will increase the size of protected marine parks by 200,000 square kilometres while also substantially expanding the area open to commercial and recreational fishers.
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace welcomed the legislation and highlighted the importance of commercial fishing to the Sunshine Coast.
He said “Commercial fishing on the Sunshine Coast generates $42.5 million in direct sales every year, with more than $30 million in exports. We have the largest commercial fishing fleet on the East Coast here in Mooloolaba. This industry is central to our community’s economic success and the passing into law of this plan is great news for all Sunshine Coasters. The environmental outcomes will be world class, with more than 36% of Australian waters being protected as marine parks. But compared to the previous Labor Government’s plan, we have also halved the impact on the Sunshine Coast’s commercial fisheries.”
The new plan protects more natural conservation features and decreases the area available to mining exploration, while opening 17% more of the total area of marine parks to sustainable commercial fishing. By ensuring environmentally sustainable local fisheries remain commercially viable, the plan will also avoid the necessity of importing more seafood from less regulated overseas fishers.
CEO of Mooloolaba based tuna company Walker Seafoods, Pavo Walker welcomed the new legislation. He said “This change means that Australia’s already highly regulated, world class and sustainable fisheries can continue to operate and provide the Australian public with healthy, local seafood. Under the previous Government’s model, the sustainable fisheries in our region would have been forced to close. This would have been detrimental to all Australians, as they would have been forced to import more unsustainable seafood from developing countries that lack Australia’s strict environmental regulations.”
The plan also dramatically increases the area available to recreational fishers, opening up 97% of the Commonwealth waters which are within 100km of the shoreline. The Government has allocated $56 million to implement these plans, including funding for community engagement and science and an appropriate adjustment package which government will consult on.
Mr Wallace said “Our environmentally conscious, high quality and nationally important commercial fishing fleet here on the Coast deserves to be supported by the Government and by the people who live here. This new plan is a big win for our local economy, and for the availability of fresh locally caught seafood for everyone on the Coast, and I am proud to have been part of supporting it. I would encourage everyone this Easter weekend to join me in enjoying some healthy Sunshine Coast seafood.”
The plans can be found via www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.