Marine park doomsday

JOSH WILSON is the federal Labor MP for Fremantle. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED he argues that by slashing the size of the protection zone for marine national parks, the Turnbull government could trigger an environmental disaster.

IN its decision to massively reduce the areas planned for marine national park protection by more than 50 per cent, the Turnbull Government is ignoring expert scientific evidence, rubbishing exhaustive community consultation, and once again undermining a critical national reform delivered by the former Labor Government.

It will be a terrible shame if by ignorance of the science or by some calculation of narrow political benefit, this government caves in and carves back carefully chosen and scientifically formulated marine protection.

The areas to lose protection include the Coral Sea, the Diamantina Trenche Zone, and the Perth Canyon – which is one of the only known feeding zones of the blue whale.

Over 1460 scientists, including world renowned conservationist, Dr David Suzuki, have released a statement urging the Coalition Government to abandon plans to wind back ocean protection that would strip away 40 million hectares of marine reserves.

Dr Suzuki described the move by the Government as ‘sickening’.

If we keep shirking the task of improving marine protection and conservation, the social, economic and environmental harm will be profound and, in some cases, irreversible.

• The Coral Sea

Everyone will lose.

Our oceans and the marine life with which we share this planet and on which we depend will be subject to ever steepening pressure, harm and degradation if we do not act decisively.

Through painstaking consultation, evidence and scientific expertise, the former Labor government secured a network that reaches around this continent and represents a basis on which we can live in harmony with the great blue lifeblood that surrounds us.

During Senate estimates this week, the Department of the Environment revealed the makeup of 82,000 submissions received on marine management plans from the Director of National Parks.

• 97 per cent of submissions called for Labor’s original plans put in place in 2013 to be restored.

• Even among those who identified as recreational fishers in these submissions 95 per cent of them asked for Labor’s 2013 plans to be restored.

Since 2013, the Abbott-Turnbull government has stalled progress on reform in favour of a questionable review process which has resulted in two work products, the expert scientific panel report and the bioregional advisory panel report.

The expert review comprehensively endorsed the process that created the network proclaimed by the Labor government.

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