Apr 10, 2014
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Our marine parks need you! Become a founding Friend of your favourite NSW marine park

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In the face of the biggest roll-back of marine protection Australia has seen, we are launching a major new initiative to safeguard the future of our Marine Parks.

Inspired by our supporters and driven by community members on the ground, each Marine Park in NSW will have its own dedicated network of friends to defend it from the government’s proposed roll-backs.

Become a founding Friend of your favourite Marine Park
, and join this exciting new movement to champion and protect our incredible marine life.

It’s easy and free – just choose which Park you’d like to get behind, and we’ll keep you posted on news, events and how you can help. Once you’ve joined, you can be involved as much or as little as you like.

It’s come to this because it’s now obvious that fishing from the shore in sanctuaries is just the first step of the government’s unacceptable roll-back plan. If they succeed, they intend to then go park by park, rezoning boundaries and dismantling protections which could virtually see each park eliminated. Even destructive sea-floor trawling could be on the cards for our protected sanctuaries.

Help us draw a line in the sand BEFORE the roll-back really starts. Become a Friend of your favourite Marine Park and send a clear message to the government that, no matter where you are in NSW, you’ll be there to stand up for our incredible marine life.

We know our collective efforts have already had a big impact. So thank you for all you’ve done.

Together, through this growing network of supporters across the State, we will stop this outrageous roll-back plan.

Mar 19, 2014
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First shooting in national parks… Now fishing in our sanctuaries?

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Great news! All our efforts to ensure the O’Farrell Government protects marine sanctuaries and keeps them fishing-free are now paying off.

Thousands of people have contacted their local Members of Parliament, community leaders and industries have spoken out, and every day more diverse voices are calling for Premier Barry O’Farrell to protect our sanctuaries for marine life.

The big decision whether to permanently allow fishing from the shore in sanctuaries was scheduled to be made last week, but the growing controversy has triggered internal debates and delays. The Minister for Fisheries, Katrina Hodgkinson, is now having to work very hard to justify her anti-marine park position to other Ministers, and her whole policy to roll-back marine protection is starting to look very incompetent and very shaky.

But remember, it was the extreme end of the National Party (which Minister Hodgkinson belongs to), in league with the Shooters & Fishers Party, which brought us Shooting in National Parks.

The problem is that these extreme elements are a powerful part of this government and may still succeed in making fishing a permanent feature within our protected shorelines. The next couple of weeks in the run-up to the Cabinet decision will tell.

But one thing more powerful than these extreme elements is letting your MP know just how radical you think this whole ‘fishing in sanctuaries’ idea really is. With an election ahead, our MPs will be listening – knowing they’ve been exposed on yet another radical, damaging plan will make this idea even more unpopular than it already is.

Please let your MP know in your own words that they should not cave in to extreme political parties by allowing fishing in sanctuaries. Ask them to abandon their current program of reforms first cooked up by the Shooters & Fishers Party that will take marine conservation back decades, and to protect our marine life for ALL people in our State.

Many of us have already emailed or called our MPs, but I’ve met with a number of them and the continued pressure really is working, so thank you!

Mar 7, 2014
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SA marine sanctuaries

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South Australia is home to some of the nation’s most spectacular marine life.
Continue reading »

Feb 12, 2014
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UPDATE: The NSW Government plan to permanently allow fishing in protected marine sanctuaries

In coming days the NSW Government will vote on whether to permanently allow fishing in our protected marine sanctuaries, undermining decades of science, common sense and public opinion.

Luckily for our turtles, fish and other marine life, the people of NSW are in a powerful position to turn this around.

So far thousands of supporters around NSW have contacted Members of Parliament urging them to save our sanctuaries. Thanks for taking these important actions – we know our efforts are having an impact.

But now, the decision by Cabinet originally expected in January has just been delayed. We don’t know for how long, but it will only be a matter of days. The good news is that every extra day is a bonus to convince the O’Farrell Government to do the right thing.

Here’s how else you could help.

1)     If you’re in NSW and sent your MP an email, whether they’ve responded or not, send another one. Your persistence will ensure they have to deal with your email beyond the simple standard reply.

2)     One of the most effective steps you can take is to leave a message for your MP by phone. If you call during business hours just leave a message with the receptionist. If you call after hours you can leave a message on their message bank. It’s easy to find your MP’s number – just type in your postcode here. And in case you’d like some extra tips for your phone message, we’ve put together a quick guide to make your call a success.

3)     No matter where you are, you can go right to the top and leave a message for the Premier on his personal contact page.

4)     If you have access to email lists or websites where you feel people would want to know about the prospect of fishing in protected marine sanctuaries, let them know. If you need some words to help, just email me here and I’ll try to help out.

Together we have made this an amazing community effort showing that people power really can make a difference for our marine life. Thanks for helping to push this over the line.

Dec 13, 2013
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Prime Minister Abbott suspends marine protection network

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has followed through on his pre-election threat to Australia’s national network of marine parks by suspending the management plans for 33 new marine parks, including parks in the Coral Sea, the Kimberley and the Great Australia Bight. These management plans outline where and what level of protection each park has to offer, and provides the protection that our turtles, whales, fish and dolphins so urgently need.

Let your local MP know how you feel about this.

Big Blue Army logo

After 15 years of extensive scientific investigation and the most thorough public consultation process in Australia’s history, the protection these parks had to offer was to come into effect on 1 July 2014. Today’s proclamation effectively freezes the introduction of any protection while the Government conducts a review of the science behind the plans and undertakes yet more consultation. This additional government process is expected to take up to 2 years during which the future of the protected marine sanctuaries that are located within marine parks will be decided. The areas now at risk include:

  • * The Coral Sea, the ‘Serengeti of the Seas,’ home to near-pristine populations of threatened whales, dolphins, sharks, and tuna.
  • * Key breeding sites for the endangered Australian sea lion off the southern coast.
  • * Critical fish breeding sites, whale resting areas, and prime recreational fishing grounds of Geographe Bay, which are threatened by commercial gillnetting and trawling.
  • * Important offshore reefs around Lord Howe and Norfolk islands.
  • * The unspoiled surf beaches of Margaret River and whale migration routes, which face the risk of oil spills.
  • * Gulf of Carpentaria turtle habitat, which is threatened by bottom trawling.
  • * Waters adjacent to the newly proclaimed Camden Sound Marine Park area of the Kimberley humpback whale nursery.

While public statements from the Government are rich on rhetoric, the reality is that the review could and should very easily result in no changes at all, with the original marine protection plans being implemented just 2 years later than originally scheduled.

 

Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network

Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network

 

This process is all about politics, and politics is all about enough people speaking out and taking action, and that’s where you come in. We need you to join the Big Blue Army and help grow the ranks of people standing up for our marine life. This is not a pipe-dream – this is a real opportunity to protect our marine life for all time by defending the largest network of marine sanctuaries in the world.

We also ask you to send a message to your local MP here.  The most effective way to get through to Tony Abbott is to tell others in the Liberal and National Party how you feel. This will really increase pressure in the party to change direction.

Below is the Abbott Government media statement on the issue and the response of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, a member group of Save Our Marine Life.

Thanks for your passion and commitment to Australia’s marine life.

 

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MEDIA STATEMENT

Australian Marine Conservation Society

Uncertain future for world’s largest network of marine reserves

14 December 2013

 

The Australian Government has ignored science, strong public opinion and years of consultation by suspending plans for the world’s largest network of marine reserves, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

 

The announcement made yesterday by Environment Minister Greg Hunt and fisheries spokesperson Senator Colbeck effectively halts the implementation of the new network of Commonwealth marine reserves that was proclaimed by the previous government in November 2012.

 

“Australia’s environment minister has capped a week of bad decisions for the environment by slamming the breaks on the world’s largest network of marine reserves”, said Darren Kindleysides, Director of AMCS.

 

“Australia’s oceans contain the greatest diversity of marine life of any country in the world. We have a clear responsibility to look after the extraordinary global asset on our doorstep. Today our government has taken a large step back from meeting that responsibility.

 

“The science shows that marine reserves work; they protect threatened species, help marine life and fish populations to recover and increase the health and resilience of our oceans to the impacts of climate change.

 

“With mounting pressure on our marine environment from climate change, industrialisation, pollution and overfishing, the government must take the protection of our oceans forwards, not backwards,” concluded Kindleysides.

 

The process of creating a network of Commonwealth marine reserves was started under the Howard Government in 1998.  The new network of Commonwealth marine reserves proclaimed in November 2012 was the result of six rounds of public consultation, hundreds of stakeholder meetings and more than 750,000 submissions, the vast majority of which were supportive of establishing marine reserves.

 

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment

Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

14 December 2013

Supporting recreational fishing while protecting our marine parks

The Coalition Government is delivering a key election promise by scrapping Labor’s plan to lock out recreational fishers from key coastal areas around the country. We are protecting the marine reserves but rejecting the flawed plans.

The Government has acted to prevent Labor’s flawed marine management plans from locking out fishers. All Commonwealth marine reserves and parks will remain, as will their boundaries but the management plans will be redeveloped.

The Governor-General has reproclaimed the new Commonwealth marine reserves. This invalidates the management plans signed off by Labor and stops the exclusion zones that would have come into effect next July, while keeping the parks and their boundaries – exactly as we committed.

The Government will create new management plans to protect the marine environment, based on science and in consultation with stakeholders and local communities.
The Government does not support locking out large areas of oceans to prevent fishers from taking out a boat and casting a line.

“Labor’s proposed changes would have meant it would be against the law for recreational fishers to cast a line at some of their favourite fishing spots across the country,” said Minister Hunt.
“The Coalition is adopting a balanced approach that will protect the marine environment while still ensuring a sustainable seafood resource and access for recreational anglers,” said Senator Colbeck.

“Labor’s plan was going to hurt tourism and commercial fishing operations.”

“The Government remains committed to marine parks and the external boundaries of the new marine reserves remain unchanged,” said Minister Hunt.

“I have asked my department to begin work on a Marine Reserves Review to consider what management arrangements will best protect marine ecosystems and accommodate the many industries and recreational fishers that use our oceans.”

The review has two components:

• the appointment of an expert scientific panel to look closely at the science supporting the current marine reserves
• the establishment of Bioregional Advisory Panels to facilitate and improve consultation with stakeholders

The make-up of the panels and their terms of reference will be announced in early 2014.

Until the new management plans come into effect, there will be no “on the water” changes. The 25 reserves that predated last year’s extension of the Commonwealth marine reserve network will continue to operate under their current arrangements.

Media contact (Minister Hunt): John O’Doherty 0402 047 852
Media contact (Senator Colbeck): Jemima Stagg 0438 387 436

Nov 25, 2013
David Mackenzie
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Report showcases unique NSW marine life threatened by looming government decision

A spectacular new online flip book has documented the unique and endangered marine life that is at risk from a NSW Government decision to wind back marine parks along the State’s coast.

 

The book, Beyond the Beach: Exploring NSW’s underwater treasures, highlights the benefits of marine sanctuaries, which allow fish and other marine life to recover and rebuild their stocks free from the pressures of sustained fishing. The report combines stunning photographs, compelling stories, and facts and figures showcasing the state’s marine natural heritage.

 

Look under the waves with Beyond the Beach

Look under the waves with Beyond the Beach

The report also focuses on the importance of marine parks and sanctuaries to tourism. Diving and whale watching tourism, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the NSW economy, depend on a healthy marine environment to continue to thrive.

 

The NSW Government’s most recent poll found 85 percent of NSW residents supported protecting some areas of the marine environment, even if it means recreational and commercial fishing is excluded. Despite this, the NSW Government has taken the unprecedented step of allowing line fishing in critical marine sanctuaries, which cover less than 7 per cent of NSW waters. The government is expected to decide soon whether this move will become permanent.

 

“Allowing fishing in marine sanctuaries is not in the long-term interests of anglers or the wider community, which wants our unique marine life protected. It appears that NSW is weakening marine protections at a time when the rest of Australia is increasing them. We urge the state government to demonstrate its commitment to marine conservation by reinstating the modest protections that existed previously”, said Clean up Australia Chairman and founder, former Australian of the Year Ian Kiernan AO who has written the foreword to Beyond the Beach.

 

“It takes time for the benefits of marine parks and sanctuaries to kick in, but when they do it’s a bonanza for regional economies and a foundation for sustainable fishing,” Mr Kiernan concluded.

 

BACKGROUND

Marine parks

  • NSW marine parks are multiple-use areas allowing for a range of activities, including recreational fishing, commercial fishing, boating, diving, snorkelling and swimming.
  • Permitted activities are determined by zoning arrangements developed through community consultation.
  • NSW has six marine parks: Cape Byron, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay, Batemans, and Lord Howe.

Marine sanctuary zones

  • Marine sanctuary zones are like national parks on land.
  • They are specific areas within marine parks that provide high-level protection for marine life and an opportunity for people to experience unspoilt nature.
  • Marine sanctuaries are free of all forms of extraction, including fishing and mining.
  • Marine sanctuaries cover only 7% of NSW waters and about 4% of our coastline.
Sep 16, 2013
David Mackenzie
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How will Marine Parks fare under an Abbott Government?

Australia has a coastal lifestyle and marine environment that we’re proud of. With the third largest marine territory and more marine plants and animals than any country, naturally we’ve taken some extraordinary steps over the years to look after it.

None more so than in 2012 when, after fifteen years of scientific investigation and public consultation, Australia declared about one third of our Commonwealth waters as Marine Parks (fishing and oil & gas exploration permitted) and just over 10% as Marine National Parks (or marine sanctuaries in which nature is fully protected).

Australia’s national marine network.
Click for larger image.

Among many other special places, protection was afforded to some of the most important areas for southern right and blue whales in Australia’s South West; the Coral Sea – a globally significant refuge for our ocean giants such as marlin, barracuda and sharks; spawning grounds for unique species of fish around Australia; and humpback whale nurseries along the Kimberley’s pristine Buccaneer Archipelago.

This was an historic decision which created the world’s largest network of marine parks and sanctuaries and offered a much brighter future for Australia’s marine life. It was a remarkable step only made possible through the action of successive governments, starting with the Liberal Howard government in the 1990s. At the time it was declared last year, polling revealed the new national network to be the most popular announcement for that term of government.

Given the popularity and the bipartisan nature of political support for marine parks to-date, it was somewhat surprising to some that during his election campaign opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced that if elected as Prime Minister he would, among other measures, suspend and review Australia’s new marine parks.

The approach the Abbott Government intends to take can be summarized as follows:

What Tony Abbott says he will do:

1. Suspend marine park management plans.

These are the plans outlining not just how parks are managed, but also the size and location of the all-important, fully-protected marine sanctuaries that are zoned within the parks. We are yet to fully understand what impact this will have, but it appears likely that no ‘suspension’ of management plans is possible without being approved by both houses of parliament. Labor and the Greens hold a majority in the Senate until July 2014. This means that the plans should stay in place until at least then, after which the new, recently elected mix of Senators can vote to change the plans.
2. Establish a scientific panel to review the plans and park boundaries.

Once again, detail on the approach here is short, but if previous independent scientific reviews of the national marine network are anything to go by, this panel should make recommendations for a larger network, not a smaller one. However if the panel is stacked with industry-friendly fisheries scientists rather than independent ecologists, the outcome could be a dramatic step backwards.
3. Consult with stakeholders and redraw park boundaries.

The Abbott Government has outlined that it will establish five panels of stakeholders around Australia to reconsider the location and size of marine parks and sanctuaries. Once again, much of what comes out of these panels will depend on who’s on them, and the representatives chosen will be heavily influenced by the volume of the voices coming from their sectors or communities.
4. Make any future Parks subject to Fisheries Minister approval.

For any Marine Parks to be declared in future, the Environment Minister will have to ask the permission of the Fisheries Minister, who in turn will inevitably put recreational and commercial fishing before conservation. This would make sensible, conservation-based marine protected areas harder to bring to reality.
5. Give $1m to recreational and commercial fishing bodies. 

Well, enough said about this one.

You can read more about Mr Abbott’s statements and read the full policy document here.

This apparent departure from the Liberal Party’s previous position on marine protection (for example, it was the Howard Government which protected many ocean icons including the Great Barrier Reef)  appears to be driven largely by more extreme elements, particularly in its Coalition partner, the National Party.

However with many Liberal Party MPs still in support of marine protection, and the overwhelming majority of Australian’s in favour of marine sanctuaries, we have every chance to maintain the momentum for our marine life.

Save the marine sanctuaries that save our marine life. Join the Big Blue army.

While the policy announced before the election is clearly dressed up to placate particular anti-conservation elements, the reality is that this Government’s new policy is wide open to interpretation. As we have seen many times before in the campaign to Save Our Marine Life, by taking action and simply letting our MPs know what we think, our efforts can dramatically change the course of events and result in great government decisions. The previous Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has admitted that the national network wouldn’t have been possible without the level of public support he received from you. Through simple online actions, and by working together, there’s nothing to stop us doing this again.

So the answer to the above question “How will Marine Parks fare under an Abbott Government?” is relatively straight-forward – “It’s wide open, and now it’s all up to us”.

What’s the best thing to do right now?

Help rally the troops! Help save the sanctuaries that save our marine life by asking your friends to join the Big Blue Army. The more people we have, the safer our marine life will be.

  1. Send your friends a message by email.
  2. Share our graphic with your friends on Facebook or tweet it.
  3. Collect signatures for the Big Blue Army by downloading our petition.
  4. Send Tony Abbott a message via his PM’s message page.

Thank you for being part of saving our marine life. With the challenges in front of us we’ll need everyone on board as a marine defender, so thanks for sticking to your guns and standing with us.

Aug 25, 2013
David Mackenzie
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Myths and chips

During Australia’s Federal election in 2013 Save Our Marine Life was keen to debunk a few myths promoted by more extreme elements of the fringe anti-conservation community. Here’s the low-down on the extensive consultation and science behind the national marine parks network and the minimal extent to which it impacts on recreational fishers.

The Government consultation behind Australia’s Marine Parks

The process to create Australia’s national network of marine parks started under the Howard Government in 1998. It has been an epic consultation process with 6 rounds of public consultation, more than 250 meetings and around 750,000 submissions made during the public consultation process which started in 2011 and ended in 2013. Read more here.

The science behind Australia’s Marine Parks

The marine science community is in no doubt: marine sanctuaries (national parks in the sea) have very significant benefits for conservation, tourism, and the long term sustainability of the commercial fishing industry and recreational fishing.

You can read more about the background science here and here.

For further explanation regarding the science relating to Australia’s national network of marine reserves we recommend reading more from Professor Nic Bax and Ian Cresswell, both from Australia’s foremost Science Agency, CSIRO who say:

“The science behind the Commonwealth Marine Reserves network, and marine bioregional planning in general, has been consistently and independently provided to Australian governments for at least 10 years. Claims that the CMR network is not based on science are either incorrect or misdirected.”

Read their whole article here.

 

To what extent is recreational fishing affected by Australia’s new marine parks?

Blue indicates where you can still fish

Being in Commonwealth waters, these Marine Parks are at least 5 kilometres offshore and therefore don’t impact whatsoever on 90% of fishers. Additionally recreational fishing remains unaffected in 96% of the waters in the first 100 kilometres from shore.

You can download the Government map of areas affected by new marine parks here.

Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman of Clean Up Australia, has also put together an excellent web site and video on the issue here.

Jun 5, 2013
David Mackenzie
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Momentous marine vote won. Just one hurdle left.

Momentous marine vote won. Just one hurdle left.

Australia’s new marine parks were voted on last night in Parliament taking us one step closer to finally making our new marine parks permanent.

You’d remember that Australia declared the largest network of marine parks in the world last November. If you missed if, here’s the map.

It’s normally a mere formality, but approval for any new parks and sanctuaries is needed from Federal Parliament before they become law. This vote occurs in both the Lower and Upper Houses.

The excellent news is that last night the Lower House voted and all new marine parks and sanctuaries were approved. This is a fantastic result, but there is one more hurdle to be cleared when the Upper House (Senate) votes on the 25th June.

Traditionally our marine life has enjoyed strong support from both sides of politics with Liberals protecting the Great Barrier Reef and the current Labor government delivering today’s outcome. However in a sign of today’s heavily polarized politics the vote was split along progressive/conservative party lines with the Independents carrying the day FOR marine parks and sanctuaries.

This split in Parliament, however, doesn’t tell the whole story and the majority of conservative MPs remain marine park supporters. With your help over coming months we hope to bring their views to the fore so the Liberal Party returns to its traditional position of supporting marine parks. You can contact your local MP with an automated email here to help keep them, or get them back, on track.

In the meantime this result has been a great one for our marine life. We’ll let you know when the final vote occurs at the end of June in the Senate.

You can read the ABC Online story covering the vote here.

Thanks for seeing this through right to the finish line.

 

Jun 4, 2013
David Mackenzie
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Fishing community rejects anti-marine park campaign

Last Sunday a rally was held by the recreational fishing lobby group Keep Australia Fishing in opposition to Australia’s new national network of marine parks.

Despite extensive advertising, give-aways and celebrity speakers the rally attracted just 80 people to an angling club which itself has over 1,000 members.

80 people attend the Keep Australia Fishing Rally at Torquay Angling Club, Victoria.

It is now clear that fishing families and the broader fishing community have seen through the scare tactics of marginal fishing lobby groups on the issue of marine parks.  The repeatedly poor attendance at this and other recent fisher rallies has also demonstrated that, like the overwhelming majority of Australians, recreational fishers see the protection of key feeding and breeding areas as common sense.

On the same day a group of around 400 recreational fishers rallied a short drive away in Geelong against an issue of concern to all of us – the commercial gill netting of Port Phillip Bay.

 

400 people attend the Friends of Corio Bay Rally at Geelong, Victoria.

These indiscriminate fishing nets are depleting fish stocks and having a significant impact on the local environment. They are affecting the enjoyment of average recreational fishers and attracting a genuine level of concern in the community. They offered no celebrities, Members of Parliament or give-aways and yet still attracted a crowd five times larger because, unlike opposition to marine parks, gill netting is a genuine community issue.

This month as Parliament considers the management plans of the new Australian marine reserves we welcome this latest clear evidence that the fishing community has seen through anti-conservation campaigns by lobby groups from the margins, and that they support sensible, scientific and balanced marine protection.

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