Debate over marine park moratorium

THE debate surrounding a Bill introduced to the NSW Parliament by the Shooters and Fishers Party calling for a moratorium on the creation of new marine parks and the extension of existing zones continues to heat up.

Robert Brown, member of the Legislative Council for the Shooters and Fishers Party, has challenged the position put forward by a group of 38 conservation groups who stated the moratorium was at odds with scientific opinion.

Mr Brown said the debate was complex, with scientific opinion actually going both ways on the issue. He said science used to consider the placement and extension of marines parks was found to be flawed in an independent review in 2009.

“Despite the department putting out a press release saying the review backed up that the science of marine parks was good, when you actually read the review and the 30-odd recommendations, that was exactly not the case,” he said.

“The science review pretty much said throughout the recommendations that they hadn’t carried out the science properly.”

Mr Brown said his party did not oppose marine parks but wanted the creation and extension of them to be more carefully considered and not be politically motivated.

“We’re not saying we don’t want any more marine parks; what we’re saying is that this head-long rush to create more marine parks is for the sake of pleasing the Greens, that’s pretty much all it’s about in my political view,” he said.

“We don’t oppose the protection of marine ecosystems or biodiversity.”

Mr Brown said resources expended in the creation and regulation of marine parks would be better spent looking at what he said were the “main dangers” to marine environments – run-off and coastal development.

“It doesn’t matter what lines you draw on a map or what you stop in terms of harvest or take, you’re not addressing the major issue related to damage of the marine environment, run-off,” he said.

“The biggest single problem is going to be, in the future, coastal development and unfortunately as a species we take a lot of resources and we make a lot of mess.”

The Bill will be debated when parliament resumes in August.

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