Tuesday, 13 September 2011
North West Slope Trawl Fishery
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) trawling in the northeast area of the North West Slope Trawl Fishery off the Western Australian Kimberley coast was made possible due to an administrative error when the Western Australian and Federal Governments amended the Offshore Constitutional Settlement in 1998,
(ii) this error allows bottom trawling in areas shallower than 200 metres despite the fact that this is a critical habitat for goldband snapper and other species and has been off-limits to trawlers since 1980,
(iii) the ecological sensitivity of this area has been acknowledged in the Australian Fisheries Management Authority's correspondence with permit holders,
(iv) legislative instruments have been introduced prohibiting all fishing in the northeast area, but the most recent instrument expired in December 2010,
(v) since that time, the closure has been maintained informally by industry self-regulation,
(vi) negotiations between the Western Australian and Federal Governments to fix this error have stalled and the trawling industry has threatened to resume trawling in September 2011, and
(vii) a resumption of trawling in this area would adversely impact the benthos and fish stocks of this region; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to permanently close this area to trawling by amending the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to ban fishing in the northeast area of the North West Slope Trawl Fishery in Western Australia.
I do note that Senator Siewert asked a question about this in question time today, and the opposition does agree that it has taken too long to sort out this particular matter. In fact, we would agree with every single sentiment that Senator Siewert has written under item (a) of her motion. But under item (b) Senator Siewert calls on the government to amend the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to ban fishing in the north-east area of the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, and the opposition does not believe that banning fishing is the way to resolve this problem. We understand that there was a solution in place to deal with this at one point in time, which unfortunately has fallen over, but to ban all fishing in that area is simply not the way to deal with this. We understand that falls into line with the Greens' position of having no-take marine zones around the country's coastline, but the opposition cannot support a ban on fishing in those regions.