Second marine plan for SA

A plan for a reserve to protect marine life along the southern and western coasts of Australia has been released by the Federal Government.

It would restrict fishing in waters around Kangaroo Island and off the west coast of South Australia.

The proposal is separate from the South Australian Government’s proposed marine parks, which already have antagonised recreational anglers.

The 1.3 million-square-kilometre south-west marine reserve will stretch from the eastern end of Kangaroo Island to Shark Bay in Western Australia.

The aim is to protect Commonwealth waters which start five-and-a-half kilometres off the coast and end 370 kilometres out to sea.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has announced the plan.

“For a long time in Australia it has been commonplace to protect our most precious and pristine environmental assets as long as they are on land and we’ve been much slower to act when we’re talking about environmental assets which are contained within our oceans,” he said.

Protection zones

The minister says the reserve will protect fragile marine life, including the australian sea lion and the blue and southern right whales.

There would be three zones.

A marine national park will protect areas of high conservation value and all mining and fishing will be banned.

A multiple-use zone would allow recreational fishing and mining, along with some commercial fishing.

Trawl fishing will be banned in a special purpose zone.

No-fishing areas will affect South Australia’s far west coast and waters near Streaky Bay and Elliston.

The Government says there has been extensive consultation with all stakeholders and there are now 90 days for comment on the plan.

“There is no doubt there will an impact on industry. Precisely what that impact is is the reason we have a draft plan rather than a final one,” Mr Burke said.

Chairman of Wildcatch Fisheries SA Jonas Walford says the Federal Government has worked closely with the fishing industry to develop the proposed marine reserve and he thinks a balance can be struck between the environment and industry.

“I’m confident … it will achieve both conservation objectives and still allow commercial fishing to take place,” he said.

Mr Walford says there has been a stark contrast between state negotiation on proposed marine parks and the talks held with the Federal Government on its plan.

“They’ve engaged us quite well, talked through the different gear and risk assessment types and what they intend to do. The State Government process, they’ve been worlds apart, there’s been a totally different approach,” he said.

Conservation groups say critical feeding and breeding areas for unique marine life have been left out of the federal proposal.

Michelle Grady from the Save Our Marine Alliance says the Federal Government should do more.

“Given the globally-significant marine life that lives off South Australia’s shores, this plan unfortunately falls way short of what is needed to protect that unique marine life,” she said.

Some fishing groups say they have been unfairly targeted..

They plan to raise their concerns with the Government next Monday.