AS alarm continues over possible fishing closures off the Cooloola Coast, the Gympie region’s fishing and tourism interests see one significant ray of hope, and it is shining from Tasmania.
A large area of ocean from Double Island Point to about three quarters of the way up Fraser Island and hundreds of kilometres out to sea has been marked as an area for assessment for possible new fishing closures and restrictions.
Despite assurances from Environment Minister Peter Garrett that this is just the beginning of a thorough consultation and assessment process, fishing interests say they have been deceived by such assurances in the past.
However, they point to the success of the only such process conducted in Australia so far, the South-East Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network, and hope the treatment our area receives will be just as intelligent.
“Everyone’s happy with what they did in Tasmania,” said fishing advocate Michael Garrahy.
He said areas off Tasmania and Victoria now constitute the first temperate deep sea network of marine reserves in the world, and both conservation and fishing interests are happy with it.
The 11 closed areas involved are all in areas important for fish conservation, but not of interest to seafood harvesters.
“Fishers still have their traditional areas near ports and the closed areas, where they do not go, are permanently protected.”