Federation Chamber : PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS : Ocean Conservation (2024)

Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (16:57): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on a motion that is of great importance to my very appropriately named electorate of Fisher. I'm grateful to the member for Watson for giving us the opportunity to debate it. We all know that the Sunshine Coast has the best beaches and the best seafood in Australia. What is less well known is that we also have the largest longline tuna and prawn fishing fleets on the East Coast. You could say that Mooloolaba is our nation's fishing capital. Fishing on the Sunshine Coast generates $42.5 million in direct sales every year, with more than $30 million in exports. Throughout South-East Asia, people are serving Mooloolaba prawns and Coral Sea tuna caught in my local community. Fishing on the Sunshine Coast, though, is much more than just a successful industry. It is part of our culture. Between the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, there are 140,000 recreational boats. Like five million other Australians for more than a century, residents in my electorate have exercised their right to throw a line over the side of their tinnie.

The oceans off the Sunshine Coast and around Australia have been bountiful but are not a bottomless resource. Our ocean must be carefully maintained. We have to protect our reefs and sustain our marine life while ensuring that local people and businesses on the Sunshine Coast can use their boats for fishing, diving, and tourism. For that reason, we need marine reserves and parks. In July, the Commonwealth government released its own draft plan for managing these parks. The documents are online now for Australians to read and have their say. The 2012 plan to which the member for Watson referred in this motion, created as it was by Julia Gillard's Labor government, increased the size of our marine parks to almost 40 per cent of Commonwealth waters and locked commercial fishermen out completely from more than a third of that area. Had the 2012 plan been permitted to continue as he suggests, everyday recreational fishers would have been banned from an area of ocean the size of the Northern Territory with no environmental benefit in sight. Like its approach to energy, Labor's plan was highly ideological, excessive and wasteful.

The government's new plan dramatically increases the area available to recreational fishers, opening up 97 per cent of those Commonwealth waters, which are within 100 kilometres of the shoreline. For commercial fishing, we simply got smarter about how we manage marine parks. The size of the parks will stay the same, but only 20 per cent of them will be designated green zones, where no fishing can happen. In those zones, the fish will be able to spawn and feed, while the remaining 80 per cent will protect the sea floor but allow fishing in the waters above.

The environmental outcomes from the plan will be world-class. We should not be distracted by Labor's ideological objections or the complaints of Northern Hemisphere lobby groups, whose own fisheries have been decimated and who now seek to criticise us. With 36 per cent of our surrounding waters covered by marine parks, we will have smashed the UN's target of 10 per cent. We will have the second-largest area under marine management in the world and sustainable stocks of marine life for the future. We will have increased the number of protected ecological features on the sea floor from 192 to 265 and expanded the areas where oil and gas exploration is banned. However, we will also have halved the economic impact on commercial fishers and opened up 80 per cent of the parks to sensible, sustainable fishing.

As part of my work to help make the Sunshine Coast the place to be for education, employment and retirement, I met some of our hardworking local fishers, like Pavo Walker from Walker Seafoods and Johnny Rockliff from Rockliff Seafoods, when I brought the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to Mooloolaba last month. Like many others, they were rightly concerned about the future of fishing in Australia. But I am pleased to say that they were reassured by the new draft plan.

The federal government supports and will maintain the Australian tradition of being allowed to throw a line over the side of a boat. The government's new plan enshrines that ability and will keep Mooloolaba, the Australian fishing capital— (Time expired)

Federation Chamber : PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS : Ocean Conservation (2024)


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