Bligh launches conservation plan

Moreton Bay, known as Brisbane’s playground, will stay that way, according to Premier Anna Bligh, who yesterday announced that professional fishing would be banned in almost 15per cent of the vast waterway.

Over the past two decades, the use of Moreton Bay has been a hot political topic, with several reports commissioned in an effort to protect the interests of professional and amateur fishermen, boaties, commercial whale-watching operators, conservationists and residents of the many bay islands.

There has also been continuing debate about a bridge to connect the larger Stradbroke Island and several smaller ones with the mainland – a proposal that has not attracted political support.

Ms Bligh yesterday launched a draft conservation plan for the bay, acknowledging that the ban placed on commercial fishing would result in some trawler operators going out of business.

At present only 0.5per cent of Moreton Bay is covered by green zones – areas protected from all fishing activities – but that has now been raised to almost 15per cent of the 350,000ha bay.

Ms Bligh said the changes would cost the $24 million-a-year fishing industry about $4million, and the Government intended to set up a $14million adjustment package to buy out the commercial fishing licences over the next few years.

“This plan is about looking after fishing well into the future, and making sure for generations to come there are fish there for all of us to catch, and for people like me who like eating seafood – fish out there for many years tocome for us to eat,” Ms Blighsaid.

“We can’t have a fishing industry if we don’t protect the sensitive breeding habitat of this bay, and in order to do that we need more green zones.”

Ms Bligh said the expansion of the protection zones would ensure the future of the internationally significant marine environment that supports more than 750 species of fish and 120 species ofcoral.

“An expert panel including marine scientists and an economist have helped with the process and thorough consultation has occurred with marine park users,” she said.

“The proposed green zones have been designed to minimise impacts on all Moreton Bay users as much as possible.”

Source: The Australian