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South Australia’s Marine Parks Bill leaves large numbers of marine environment users unsatisfied with consultation about and purpose of Bill, Lib MLC says

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

The former Liberal government initiated discussions to form marine parks in South Australia in 1995, with the intention of introducing legislation to meet international and national marine conservation standards at that time and into the future, said Liberal MLC Caroline Schaefer in South Australia’s Legislative on 11 September 2007.

Government slow to act: “It intended to introduce a framework which provided certainty — and I stress the word `certainty’ — for all stakeholders,” Schaefer said. “…When Labor took power in 2002 the legislation languished. The government was subject to considerable criticism from the opposition and stakeholders for its lack of action. Eventually, in March 2005, it announced the intended Encounter Marine Park, which encompassed much of the southern coast and part of Kangaroo Island. All hell cut loose, so the government shelved that plan and, supposedly, has been consulting since — although there is still much criticism of its method of consultation. It has been put to me that consultation has not included negotiation.

19 parks planned: “Minister Gago tabled the current bill in June 2007,” continued Schaefer. “The aim of the bill, to quote the minister’s second reading explanation, is to provide `effective management to protect our (marine) environments and the plants and animals that depend on them from increasing human pressures, whilst ensuring opportunities for ecologically sustainable development, use and enjoyment’. However, there is still enormous anxiety within the community as to the processes, procedures and eventual outcomes of that aim. There are to be 19 multiple use marine parks.”

Lack of definition: Schaefer said the government did not intend to announce any boundary until the legislation was proclaimed. They would be announced concurrently and released for a mandatory minimum of six weeks’ consultation. Marine park management plans, including zoning, would then be introduced concurrently to be in use within three years. However, there were no definitions of the various types of zones, so there was no guarantee that South Australian zoning will have any parity with national or international standards.

Poor consultation alleged: Regional consultative committees — to be appointed by the minister — were to have input into plan development, and a further six weeks’ consultation period was to take place with regard to the plans and zoning prior to their adoption. Schaefer queried what stakeholder involvement would occur in the development of the draft of boundaries or the development of zones. Schaefer said she had received numerous submissions and complaints about the consultation process so far and faults in the bill which have not been addressed by the department or the minister.

Many professional mariners unhappy: A letter widely circulated by the South Eastern Professional Fisherman’s Association summed up the frustrations of many of the organisations to whom Schaefer had spoken and from whom she had received submissions. Schaefer read a letter from fishermen listing a number of grievances. Schaefer then named 17 other groups that had expressed concern about the legislation.

Reference: Caroline Schaefer, Liberal Party of Australia, Legislative Council, South Australia, 11 September 2007.

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