Supertrawler fears over park cutbacks

SUPERTRAWLERS will be back in Australian waters following the Turnbull government’s slashing of proposed marine parks, says Federal Labor MP Josh Wilson.

Mr Wilson calls the cutbacks to Labor’s planned national network of sanctuaries “the largest act of marine vandalism in Australia’s history”.

But federal environmnet minister Josh Frydenberg says the new plans, endorsed by the Senate last week deliver a “balanced and scientific evidence-based approach to ocean protection”. The plans would also open 17 per cent more park area to commercial fishing.

“Make no mistake, the only reason for removing these sanctuary zones is to open the way for industrial fishing and super-trawlers in these far offshore locations,” says Mr Wilson. “We are already seeing a regional increase in this form of brutal, indiscriminate fishing, and if the government has its way, Australia will be next.”

Late last year, the department of environment received 82,000 submissions about the proposed network, with 92 per cent calling for more stringent protection of marine areas.

Former federal MP Melissa Parke lobbied hard to get the original park plan through under Kevin Rudd, and says she’s appalled by the cutbacks.

“I know that Fremantle people will be appalled by the Turnbull government’s changes to marine parks and I also know that Fremantle people will continue to fight for the protection of our oceans which are after all the blue heart of the planet,” Ms Parke said.

Three WA sanctuaries are affected, including one at the head of the Perth Canyon off Rottnest Island, a feeding area for the protected blue whale.

by ALICE ANGELONI

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