Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government's Australian approach to environmental management has positioned us as a global leader, including with respect to oceans and marine ecosystems?
I thank the member for Wentworth for his question and acknowledge his interest and understanding in international engagement around the environment. The ocean gives us life, feeds us, entertains us, connects us, inspires us and powers our success—so say the 14 nations of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, and that includes Australia.
The Prime Minister has committed to sustainably manage 100 per cent of the ocean within our national jurisdiction by 2025. We know that when our ocean is healthy it has the potential to deliver significant economic and social benefits. Ocean industries are projected to contribute around $100 billion each year to our economy by 2025. The government is also working closely with industry and various state fishery managers to support sustainable practices. On any given day, hundreds of gillnets, some as long as 1.5 kilometres, are used to catch the fish we all love to buy and eat. Sadly, these nets can also entrap and kill species of concern, such as dolphins, turtles and whales. We are focused on minimising this harmful bycatch and maximising sustainability.
It's incredibly important that when these sustainability conditions are not met the government acts. Indeed, we have no hesitation in revoking permits, including last year revoking export approval for one of our inshore fin fish fisheries when the Queensland government failed to meet the conditions of the export approval given. We also work to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through international and regional engagement and strong domestic surveillance, penalties and education programs. Indeed, our fishing industry is one of the most sustainable in the world. A shout-out to the level of concern, engagement and sheer demonstrations of goodwill that come from our fishers across Australia.
From John Howard creating the world's first oceans policy through to the Morrison government's $1.9 million investment in the Great Barrier Reef, it is the coalition which has consistently worked towards improving the health of our oceans over many decades. Last year's budget included $67 million for an oceans package, which was about international blue carbon and rainforest-reef partnerships and tackling the marine impacts of discarded fishing gear in northern Australia. All in all, our commitment to being a global leader in ocean protection is leading by example at home and by international collaborations which makes a difference.