Coral Sea lock-out scrapped: Macdonald


North Queensland waters in the Gulf and the Coral Sea have been returned to sensible and sustainable fishing with the scrapping of Labors plan to lock up the region, North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald said today.

The Coalition will still, as we always have, protect fish stocks and promote sustainable fisheries, Senator Macdonald said.

But we reject the flawed plans of Labor which were not based on science, but on pressure from international conservation groups and the Australian Greens.

The Government has acted to prevent Labors flawed marine management plans from locking out fishers. All Commonwealth marine reserves and parks will remain, as will their boundaries, but the management plans will be redeveloped.

The Governor-General has reproclaimed the new Commonwealth marine reserves. This invalidates the management plans signed off by Labor and stops the exclusion zones that would have come into effect next July, while keeping the parks and their boundaries exactly as the Coalition promised.

Senator Macdonald said that the government would create new management plans to protect the marine environment, based on science and in consultation with stakeholders and local communities.

We have never supported the locking up of vast areas of the ocean, he said.

When the Coalition established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, we did so based on science and in consultation with the local fishing industry.

This has been a remarkable success and shows what can be done when the government and the fishing industry work in cooperation to manage the fishery properly.

We are committed to continuing that process.

An expert scientific panel review will be appointed to look closely at the science supporting the current marine reserves and Bioregional Advisory Panels will be established to facilitate and improve consultation with stakeholders. The make-up of the panels and their terms of reference will be announced early next year.

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