INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC AUDIT OF MARINE PARKS
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN
[7.13 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to the report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales. I commend the chair, Associate Professor Bob Beeton, on his thorough examination of the subject. In a nutshell, the findings of the audit report confirm what most fishermen already believe; that is, that the original science behind the establishment of the parks and their zonings needs to be redone. It is no secret that the parks were set up by the former Government in a cosy little deal with The Greens of the day. Those so-called "parks" had nothing to do with protection or conservation. Let us be clear: The parks were a pure political deal between the Labor Left and The Greens.
I note that the chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, Pepe Clark, said that the report "lays to rest claims that marine parks and sanctuaries are based on voodoo science". Mr Clark is wrong. In fact, the audit found that "the social and economic impacts of the marine parks were not properly considered when the parks were created". That clearly leaves one free to accept the claim that they were indeed based on political dealing and on voodoo science. However, as always, The Greens are never satisfied. Mr Clark put his spin on the report and then foreshadowed a push to further restrict the fish that recreational fishers can take. He says that because recreational fishers are catching almost a third as many fish as the commercial fishing fleet, he wants a higher level of protection. In green-speak, and according to Mr David Shoebridge, that means fishers can have only three firearms and now, according to Mr Clark, probably only one fish. Who will they come after next? They have had shooters and fishers under the hammer for ages—16 years to be precise.
I believe that recreational fishers should be pleased by most if not all of the report's recommendations because it provides a fair balance between the needs of conservation and use. That balance is called "sustainable use", and it is supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I welcome the recommendation that the governance of the New South Wales marine estate be reorganised by bringing it all under one legislative and administrative structure and including the catchment management authorities covering the State's coastal drainage system. Members should note that the report does not call it "marine park". It is also a sensible recommendation to have the science of the marine estate reorganised under an independent scientific committee whose research priorities put proper emphasis on research in the social and economic sciences and the application of these findings to management of the marine estate.
The report recommends also that approaches to zoning be reassessed and based on management objectives which are specifically geared to ecological and biodiversity outcomes and which utilise economic and social assessments in their implementation and evaluation. I hope the Government takes up the recommendation in relation to improving approaches to zoning that say significant resources need to be allocated to research before any more lines are drawn on a map. I call on the Government tonight to put aside the necessary budget for Minister Hodgkinson's department so that the work can be done. If the budget is not made available the report is not worth the paper it is printed on.
One of the most important recommendations is that the needs of user groups be included in any future management models, in the context of a much expanded New South Wales marine estate, which could include innovations such as havens for particular forms of fishing or other specific uses. The Government has kept its word on delivering this truly independent review. I hope it also has the determination to see a shift to sustainable utilisation as a now accepted method of conserving biodiversity. Hopefully it will not go down the same path as the previous Government and allow voodoo science and political dealing with The Greens to determine how the new marine estate is managed.