The Commonwealth Government has been undertaking an assessment of Australian waters under a program known as Marine Bioregional Planning. That process has been on foot for a number of years and Marine Queensland and other State Boating Industry Associations in conjunction with the Boating Industries Alliance have actively participated in that process. As members may be aware, this process has been a highly politicised process with green NGO’s seeking to advance proposals that will provide high protection levels to these waters. A consequence of these proposals if implemented will be dramatically reduced access to undertake activities such as fishing.
In June this year the Environment Minister released a draft plan and other information such as an economic impact statement and regulatory impact statement for the Coral Sea. The information released by the Minister reveals that Queensland is on track under the proposal to have over 75% of the waters in its commonwealth marine estate (EEZ) zoned. This in practical terms will mean that with current and proposed reserves that over 1.3 MILLION square kilometres of Commonwealth waters off the Queensland coast will be zoned. This represents about 75% of the Commonwealth controlled waters off our State.
Marine Queensland has made extensive submissions and lobby on these issues arguing that the Commonwealth waters should be managed against identified risks and threats – not ideology. From the information provided by the Government the centres in Queensland most impacted will be Cairns, Mooloolaba and Brisbane with lesser impacts in other regional centres. The final decision by the Government will be made after the conclusion of the current consultation period which closes on 10 September 2012. Marine Queensland will continue to make submissions on these issues on behalf of members.