Marine park in limbo

STAN Young is waiting with bated breath for the announcement that the recent expansion of the Solitary Islands Marine Park will be scrapped by the new state Coalition Government.

The Wooli Deep Sea Tours owner said it was great news that the Coalition would honour its pre-election promise and axe the recent expansion to allow for more in-depth studies to be done.

He said the round shape of exclusion zones in the park made it difficult for fishermen.

“For the average fisherman to know when he is in the park is nearly impossible,” he said.

Mr Young said he hoped future studies into the marine park would consider submissions from local businesses.

Beside Labor's expansion of the park's sanctuary zones from 12% to 19% the rezoning also hit the local commercial industry hard.

Professional Fishermen's Association Industry representative John Harrison said the announcement would be met with loud applause by the industry.

He said the expansion impacted on six fisheries in the marine park.

“Ocean trawl fishing grounds, which is prawns, went from 34% general use to 13% general use ... we lost some significant and important trawl grounds,” he said.

Other fisheries affected included ocean trap and line, spanner crab grounds, mud crab grounds, lobster grounds and ocean net grounds.

If the decision isn't reversed by the Coalition, Mr Harrison said it could result in fishermen having to relocate to stay in the industry, or ultimately, job losses.

“It was going to have a significant impact on the commercial fishing industry,” he said.

Mr Harrison said any future decisions about the marine parks must include scientific data.

Until he had been sworn in as Minister, former Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Energy, Mineral Resources and Fisheries, Duncan Gay was reluctant to comment on the Coalition's marine parks policy.

Mr Cansdell said he received confirmation from Mr Gay's office yesterday the policy announced by the Coalition would be adhered to.

Mr Cansdell said there would then be a thorough consultation made of all submissions, including local submissions on the marine park.

“Decisions will be made on scientific data and not political influence,” he said.

“We believe that the real science and local knowledge was not a priority in the decision making.”

The Coalition's Primary Industries Minister is expected to make an official announcement about the marine park early next week.

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