Queensland Agriculture & Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne should stop using the Reef 2050 Plan as an excuse to put fishing families out of work, Senator Matt Canavan said today.
“He’s killing jobs and hurting families in the Capricorn region, Mackay and Cairns through proposed net-fishing bans and he can’t blame that on the Reef Plan and UNESCO,” the Rockhampton-based Senator said today. “It’s all his own work.”
Senator Canavan was commenting following media reports that a spokesman for Mr Byrne said the bans must go ahead because they are “an obligation of the Reef 2050 plan to repair the Great Barrier Reef”.
“For starters, Bill Byrne should listen to local fishermen before the UN. My understanding is he has refused to meet local fishermen. He should come clean about when he is going to engage in proper consultation with the local industry to protect local jobs.”
Senator Canavan said the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is a complex, 100-page document to which both the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have made contributions.
“Following the State election on January 31, the new Queensland Government added an action item that referred to establishing three net-free fishing areas.
“In the draft Reef Plan released late last year, the previous State Government proposed an action item to ‘complete Queensland’s fisheries management review and implement measures to achieve and maintain sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries’.
“The new Government deleted this and replaced it with a new action item: ‘Establish three net-free fishing zones in north and central Queensland: Trinity Bay, Cairns; St Helen’s Beach-Cape Hillsborough, north of Mackay; and Yeppoon-Keppel Bay-Fitzroy River, Capricorn Coast’.
“A cynic might suggest the main benefit of this was to provide a ready-made excuse to implement what are purely political fishing bans.
“Under the headings of ecosystem health, biodiversity, heritage, water quality, community benefits, economic benefits and governance, the plan makes a total of 139 separate recommendations. Let me repeat that: 139 separate recommendations.
“To suggest that UNESCO would give Australia a “fail” mark on our management of the 2,300-km-long, 300,000 square-kilometre Great Barrier Reef because this action wasn’t ticked off and fishermen weren’t banned from catching fish around Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton is simply a nonsense.
“If he wants to try to justify destroying seafood industry jobs and putting local families on the dole queue, then the Queensland Minister needs a better defence than saying ‘The Reef Plan made me do it’.”