Newman gets it wrong again on Moreton Bay Green Zones

MoretonBayMarineParkThe Australian Marine Conservation Society has cautioned the Newman Government over a proposal to allow fishing in a green zone at Redcliffe, Moreton Bay Marine Park in South-east Queensland.

“This decision is clearly a complete misread of community sentiment on our marine park,” said Fiona Maxwell from the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“The science and public sentiment are solid. Marine conservation and great fishing go hand in hand in Moreton Bay, and the public want them to stay.  The Newman Government has clearly not considered the science or the real sentiment of the community in this announcement,” said Ms Maxwell.

There was extensive community consultation through the Moreton Bay Marine Park process finalised in 2009, with over 8000 submissions received from ocean lovers, scientists and recreational users of the marine park. Recent scientific surveys of recreational fishers show that a clear majority believe that green zones are good for Moreton Bay, further evidence that marine parks are delivering clear benefits for fishers and conservation alike.

“The scientific and Government studies clearly show the great majority of recreational fishers, both in Brisbane and throughout Queensland, believe that our highly protected green zones are a good and pretty reasonable thing, and that great conservation and great fishing go hand in hand,” Ms Maxwell said.

“We question why Premier Newman is going against the science and the rigorously surveyed opinions of local recreational fishers to adopt a proposal that was being pushed by disgraced former MP Scott Driscoll whilst he was still the member for Redcliffe. There was no scientific process behind this decision.

“History, the science and simple common sense shows that recreational fishers and  other recreational users continue to enjoy the Bay as much as they always have – a point obvious to anyone that spends any time on the waters of Moreton Bay. It is difficult to understand the motive behind this retrograde proposal,” said Ms Maxwell.

Two recently published peer-reviewed studies from the CSIRO and local universities clearly show that the majority of local fishers think the Marine Park and its green zones are positive for the bay, and that the new zoning plan is delivering benefits to the community.

Main findings from the recent research (available here) include:

64.7% of surveyed recreational fishers said that the current zoning of the marine park would be positive for the biology’ of the bay.

Far from impacting fishers negatively – as scaremongers predicted – Moreton Bay Marine Park is delivering significant economic benefits to local recreational fishers ($1M-$2.5M per year).

A survey of north Queensland recreational fishers also showed that, in the much larger Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with double the proportion of green zones, 73% of fishers believed the green zones had either no effect or a positive effect on their fishing.