Green groups fear windback of sanctuaries

AUSTRALIA’S marine environment could face further pressure if the federal government acts on recommendations to wind back protection in marine sanctuaries, say environmentalists.

Two panels set up by the Abbott government to review new marine reserves have recommendedd changes to zoning use and boundaries for 26 of the 40 areas.

Bremer Canyon, located off south-western WA, would be considered for special protection because of its diverse and plentiful marine life including orcas, sperm whales, seals, sharks and giant squid.


But Jessica Meeuwig, director of UWA’s centre for Marine Futures, says the report just shoves the bay’s protection zone further off-shore and now permits scallop dredging between the coast and its borders.

Critics argue that scallop fishing is a highly destructive practice with low returns.

“Partial protection where you allow some fishing, doesn’t achieve conservation outcomes, therefore the report undermines the marine environment,” Ms Meeuwig says.

“At the end of the day this study opens the door to more commercial fishing in sensitive locations.”

The Chook contacted Melissa Parke who had been a staunch advocate of marine sanctuaries when Fremantle MP, but she’s hosting a function and Fremantle MP Josh Wilson was in a plane over Adelaide when we tried to get in touch.


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