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Huge Coral Sea 'no-take' zones irresponsible

24, April 2012

HUGE CORAL SEA ‘NO TAKE’ ZONES IRRESPONSIBLE

Federal environment minister Tony Burke is expected to announce his decision on protection of the 1 million square kilometre Coral Sea Marine Protected Area soon; with concerns aired he will declare the area a ‘no-take’ zone, banning all fishing.

“Any declaration of the Coral Sea as a no-take zone will be a bad decision for the global marine environment” said Max Rheese, executive director of the Australian Environment Foundation.

“A cursory examination of publicly available data clearly shows Australian fishery harvest is the most environmentally friendly in the world with harvests of less than 1% of recognised sustainable yields from the world’s largest per capita fishery.”

All Coral Sea fisheries are strictly managed with small quotas.  Nearly all Coral Sea islands and reefs are already protected in marine parks.  All Coral Sea marine species are already protected in the world’s largest coral reef park, the Great Barrier Reef National Park.

Research undertaken by the AEF with marine biologist, Dr Walter Starck has confirmed that no marine species in Australian waters is threatened with extinction by commercial fishing.  Also no reduction of marine biodiversity from fishing has been documented in Australia.

“It is difficult to determine what threats are envisaged to the marine life of the Coral Sea, which everyone agrees is in pristine condition or what benefits will be delivered by imposing a total ban on fishing over a million square kilometres of ocean.

“These are the most reckless, irresponsible environmental proposals we have seen, as they will transfer the burden of Australian consumption of seafood to fisheries overseas that are already heavily exploited.

“We ‘save’ our fish for Asian fishermen to catch and sell back to us” said Mr Rheese.

Currently Australia imports around 70% of seafood consumed annually all of which is imported from less well managed fishing zones, with the CSIRO projecting a 400% increase in Australian seafood consumption in the next 15 years.

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