… or at least that seems to be what Australia’s Opposition leader thinks would happen if he stopped the expansion of marine protected areas in Australian waters:
In a policy aimed at marginal Queensland seats, Mr Abbott said a Coalition government would ”immediately suspend the marine protection process which is threatening the livelihoods of many people in the fishing industry and many people in the tourism industry”.
”All of us want to see appropriate environmental protection, but man and nature have to live together,” Mr Abbott said as he toured the seat of Dawson, in Mackay, which is held by Labor by 2.6 per cent.
Citing “Real action to protect our marine environments and fishing communities” , Mr Abbott wants to balance environmental protection with economic growth by first suspending the marine protected area process. But doesn’t tourism in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park generate billions of dollars for the Australian economy annually?
The GBRMP re-zoning that resulted in an increase in strict protection from 4.5% to over 30% was of course intiated under the previous Howard government, and undertaken through a comprehensive research and consultation process. According to Mr Abbott, things have gone awry since then, although so far the details on this are scanty.
Coalition policy would require consideration of peer reviewed scientific evidence of threats to marine biodiversity before future decisions are made about marine park establishment:
“We would not be interested in just putting lines on maps. If there’s something out there that needs to be protected, if it’s iconic and needs protection, we’d want to see the science and that science would have to be peer-reviewed.”
Fortunately, there is already a lot out there to suggest that the marine environment is under threat, fishing kills fish and that marine parks have benefits for biodiversity and maintaining fish stocks. Conservation planning software used world wide, and developed in Queensland, is used to assist in the creation of marine parks in a way that seeks to achieve protection for biodiversity while balancing socio-economic objectives. The science is light years ahead of lines on maps (although, this can be helpful as part of the community consultation process).
It’s encouraging to see the high regard that Mr Abbott places upon peer reviewed science on this issue, so for someone who gets his ‘facts’ about climate change from Heaven + Earth, perhaps a bit of consistency wouldn’t go astray?