Fishermen in Western Australia have slammed approaches made by the department responsible for planning marine parks, claiming that they stand to be ‘wiped off the map’.
According to WA Fishing Industry Council CEO, Darryl Hockey, during the South Coast Marine Park planning process, commercial fishers were asked to hand over the locations of their prime fishing spots to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) so that “we can plan the marine park around them” and failure to do so would be “an own goal,” as these areas might otherwise be ‘accidentally’ taken up by sanctuary areas.
‘This lot simply can’t be trusted,’ Darryl Hockey said, commenting that plans that recently tabled by DBCA are ‘evidence that it is all just a con-job.’
He added that this is a concern because promises have been publicly given that compensation will not be necessary because the ‘marine park sanctuaries will be designed in such a way as to avoid adverse impacts on commercial fishing.’
‘Now in the full knowledge that all commitments have been openly broken, DBCA is pushing forward its latest series of maps which (a) ignore DPIRD’s input, even though DPIRD is responsible for fisheries and is supposedly an equal Planning Partner, (b) use the information of commercial fi shers against them, and (c) threaten some very serious adverse impacts upon individuals as well as food security. In other words, the good faith provision of information to DBCA was a true “own goal”.’
‘Unfortunately there has been no sign whatsoever that DBCA’s attempts to destroy fishing will be moderated, DBCA is a law unto themselves and nobody within government appears to have the capacity to pull them into line,’ he said.
‘We’ve done everything possible for over two years in a fully responsible manner through every formal channel, but we are being attacked in an ideological war and now have no choice but to fi ght for our survival. Our people and families and livelihoods and towns are going to be sacrificed unless we stand up for human values and food security.’
He warned that fishing as an industry stands to be ‘wiped off the map.’
‘This is just the start. If this continues we will be closed down, just like the native forestry industry, just like live sheep exports. We have offered government on many dozens of occasions to collaboratively develop a sound planning solution which will provide environmental protection whilst allowing the commercial fishing industry to remain healthy,’ he said.
‘You’d think that government would embrace a win-win solution, but instead DBCA is being allowed to adopt a scorched earth approach. They knew exactly what they wanted from the very start and with laser-like precision they have used this sham consultation process to deliver a predetermined outcome.’
He stated that WAFIC has exhausted all possible approaches through conventional means to secure a marine park planning balance, which ethically respects south coastal individuals, families and communities,
‘But DBCA appears to be more interested in supporting its US-based eco-lobby network than the needs of West Australians,’ Darryl Hockey said.
‘We are calling on government to intervene and collaboratively provide a win-win solution for the state, one which allows renewable fishing to continue to sustainably provide fresh local fish to the community – while still maintaining the existing pristine condition of the south coast.’