Senate debates

Monday, 17 September 2012


Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Declared Commercial Fishing Activities) Bill 2012; Second Reading

4:57 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

To begin where I left off, I take this opportunity to quickly go through the amendments that the Greens have circulated. One, as I touched on before we finished, was to put in place a ban on super trawlers based on a size of 2,000 tonnes. We believe that super trawlers have no place in this day and age in modern fisheries management and do not believe they should be operating in our waters.

We also have an amendment which essentially reverses the onus of proof. Instead of the declaration lasting only two years we believe there needs to be a process in place where the declaration remains in place until that declaration is revoked based on the science. In other words, there is no automatic assumption that it lasts for only 24 months.

We are also seeking to put back the issues around social and economic factors. Quite frankly, I am fascinated that Mr Oakeshott seems to have supported this removal of consideration of social and economic factors. The plain fact here is that a super trawler and this particular type of fishing activity could have a devastating impact on local communities, and it certainly has a social impact on recreational fishers. The consideration of social and economic factors is a very important issue, and I would have thought it was an issue that Mr Oakeshott would have supported given that members in his electorate have in the past spoken out quite strongly on issues related to recreational fishing and, in particular, impacts on recreational fishing and fish stocks. We seek to put that particular provision back.

We also seek to remove the sunset clause. What that effectively does is say it is for this particular activity and for no others. What happens into the future if there are other activities that adversely impact, or are likely to adversely impact, on the marine environment and fish stocks? We believe it is an important new provision that is going into the legislation, and one that we do not believe should have a sunset clause on it.

This is about the future of our fisheries management and of our fish stocks and, as I have articulated in the rest of my speech, the science is not clear. That is why we need to have this. That is why it is important that we have put this issue of uncertainty into the legislation, because if there is one thing that has become clear from this debate it is that the science is not clear. We need more work and we need some rigorous analysis of the science and the fish stocks. I articulated previously all those things that go into a proper assessment, none of which has been done or done enough, because we were using old data for the previous assessment. New data needs to be collected; it needs to be a very rigorous process and, as the scientists said, it is likely to take the full two years if we do it properly.


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