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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Huge sea reserve attacked

The Mercury: Huge sea reserve attacked [15dec05]

TASMANIAN fishermen have slammed plans to lock up 171,000 square kilometres of southern seas in a network of marine protected areas.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the proposal highlighted Australia's status as a world leader in marine conservation.

But Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association CEO Rodney Treloggen said it was not acceptable that commercial fishermen would be kicked out of the areas.

"This is a blatant attack on commercial fishing in waters off Tasmania and the repercussions for the local industry will be horrendous," he said.

He said it would cost jobs and millions of dollars for the lobster, fin fish and shellfish industries.

The regions off southeastern Tasmania, Victoria, eastern South Australia and far south New South Wales are the first major network of deep water marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.

"The proposed MPA network covers an area 2 1/2 times the size of Tasmania and four-fifths the size of Victoria," Senator Campbell said.

It is designed to protect undersea mountains and canyon systems and a wide range of unknown species.

But Mr Treloggen said the move was devastating considering the local fishing industry's commitment to environmentally responsible fishing.

"We were part of the consultation process for the first two years of this project but about six months ago they changed the rules and cut us out of the loop," he said.

"I really don't think the senator is aware of the significance of this."

The network's launch follows years of research and consultation with the commercial fishing, oil and gas industries and the conservation movement.

Forty per cent of the proposed MPAs is to be highly protected, with a further 40 per cent protected in areas where commercial fishing is prohibited.

The boundaries and zoning of the proposed MPA network will be open for public consultation next month.



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